Community Links

Community Links blog

Partnership success that builds brighter futures for young people

September 29th, 2016

Last night Community Links and our corporate partners Bank of New York Mellon won the Corporate Community Local Involvement Charity Times Award for our Future Links employability programme.

Since 2009 this fantastic project has enabled hundreds of young people furthest from the labour market to develop the necessary skills to progress into work or further education, with 85% of our graduates moving into a positive destination.

Our CEO, Arvinda Gohil, who attended the awards, said:

“I am delighted at this result, many congratulations and well done to everyone who was involved and continues to be involved in this great partnership. My particular thanks and congratulations to the young people who have participated in this programme and made it such a success over the last 8 years.”        

Key to the programme’s success is the longstanding partnership and support of our corporate sponsor BNY Mellon. Long-term partnerships with companies are invaluable to organisations like Community Links, enabling us to plan ahead, build our sustainability and innovate. This national recognition of the strong local partnership we’ve developed provides an opportunity to reflect on what’s key to a successful relationship between a charity and a company.

Future Links supports young people aged between 16-19 years old who live in Newham and who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). The training is focused on building the confidence, resilience, networks and skills of our young people and supporting them through the job application process. Alongside being the sole funder of Future Links, BNY Mellon plays an important role in the programme delivery. Participants visit their offices twice during each 10 week course – receiving support from employees with their CVs and interview skills and attending a graduation celebration at the end.

Future Links success would not be possible without the support of BNY Mellon and our skilled and committed programme staff, who dedicate so much time, energy and enthusiasm to the young people they work with. At the end of the day, Future Links’ success is a reflection on the hundreds of young people who have worked so hard over the years, and who have built brighter futures for themselves, their families and their communities.

Karting Challenge raises over £13,500 for Community Links

September 27th, 2016

The 21st annual Community Links Karting Challenge took place at Team Sport, Docklands on 21st September, raising over £13,500 to support Community Links.

Eight teams consisting of 37 drivers from corporate firms across London competed in a two-hour endurance race to raise important funds for our charity. Teams from companies including Morgan Stanley, Thames Water, Henderson and Investec took on Team Sport’s 800m track to complete the most laps and win the endurance race.

This year’s winners were Morgan Stanley’s IT team who came top of the board for both the top fundraisers and the fastest driving team.

Since its inception, the annual Community Links Karting Challenge has teamed up over 1,500 individuals from 35 organisations and raised more than £425,000 for Community Links.

Ian Robinson, Head of Fundraising at Community Links said: “The Karting Challenge is Community Links biggest in-house fundraising event and it is a fantastic night to bring together some of our closest supporters.”

“We are overwhelmed with the incredible amount all teams have raised this year and deeply grateful for the support we receive from companies and their employees to tackle poverty in east London. These funds will enable us to continue helping individuals overcome crisis and create opportunities for disadvantaged people.”

Oli Bage, Executive Director Technology and Data, Morgan Stanley said: “Since 2002 Morgan Stanley have been competing in Community Link’s annual karting challenge. We are passionate about competing on the track, but even more passionate about raising important funds for the critical work that Community Links does in our local community. They really make a difference to people’s lives, and it is great to feel part of their team for the evening.”

Champions of the Shengha

September 26th, 2016

You could be looking at  the game Champions of the Shengha and the book “Change the world for a fiver” for quite some time before you noticed any connection. That is exactly how we would want it to be.

Both are bright, attractive and original products highly competitive and desirable in their own markets but there is more: both are explicitly designed to drive positive behaviour change, to influence social and cultural norms and to help prevent complex, expensive problems.

The first was a little book that reached number 3 in the Sunday Times best seller list and sold over one million copies in 2004. It was effectively 50 public service announcements presented in a style that was modern, engaging, irreverent, challenging and fun. It was produced by the then new Community Links project called We Are What We Do and was probably the first consumer product explicitly designed to “nudge” – to change behaviour but not through threat or exhortation. Steve Hilton was one of the volunteers who helped with the creative work. He was so inspired by the idea that when he rocked up at No 10 as David Cameron’s principal adviser six years later he established, in Downing Street, the government’s own Behavioural Change Unit

The equally successful and ground breaking “I’m not a plastic bag” designer tote bag followed – a collaboration with market leader Anya Hindmarch. Gradually our learning and thinking advanced and the products and the process became more subtle and sophisticated.  The project became an independent social enterprise applying a, by now, well tested  and rigorous research, design and venture building process to issues like mental illness, poor diets, social isolation and energy inefficiency. We Are What We Do changed its name to Shift, I am still the chair and Champions of the Shengha is our latest offering.

We have been developing “Champions” through our purpose built BfB Labs. Here we have been pioneering emotionally responsive gaming as a way to increase resilience to mental health problems amongst young people. After 3 years of R&D, we are launching our first product today. Champions of the Shengha, trains and rewards players for controlling their emotional state. This is tracked through a unique wireless wearable device which we call the BfB Sensor. Our recent independent clinical trial on the game not only showed that participants loved playing it, but that it could effectively train emotional regulation skills and that the young people quickly started to apply these skills in their everyday lives.

We think the game is groundbreaking and the potential is huge. Online gaming is an enormous market. Many of the existing games are compelling, even addictive. Clear and uncontested evidence shows that regular playing of these games affects our behaviour and damages our mental health particularly in the vulnerable adolescent years. Champions of the Shenga doesn’t just mitigate these dangers it turns them upside down – it is also compelling and fun and commercially competitive but it builds rather than reduces the players emotional resilience and it improves rather than damages their mental health.

We are launching Champions through crowdfunding on Indiegogo  today. It may all seem a long way from Community Links and a funny little book but its roots are here and its purpose is our purpose. Please take a look at  Indiegogo, join us if you possibly can and be sure to spread the word.

Love, trust and the teachable moment

September 20th, 2016

Three months ago today politicians were united across the normal divides in paying tribute to Jo Cox, their murdered colleague. I doubt whether the word “love” has been used in the House of Commons as many times in the entire lifetime of a government as it was in that single afternoon. Love was, they agreed, Ms Cox’s defining characteristic, love of family and friends, love of constituency and colleagues, love of humanity.

Listening to the tributes I was reminded of a phrase used by our health worker colleagues. They talk about “teachable moments” – the period immediately after a scare or a near miss, a cancer alarm, an illness affecting someone we know –  a time when we are most likely to respond to messages about changing our behaviour because we have been shocked into a new  perspective. These are the moments when the truly important breaks through our casual acceptance of routines, conventions and mindless habit. How often have we all heard people at funerals or memorial services say “it makes you think about what really matters”?  Perhaps we have said it ourselves.

Briefly and optimistically I thought those last days of June were national  “moments” and that the awful shock of the murder might jolt politicians, and more broadly our national discourse, into a new appreciation of love and trust.

I was heartened at the time because I thought it showed a common acceptance that love should be the guiding principle at the heart of public life, public services and public discourse even if articulating the idea and acting on it is potentially awkward, sensitive and complex.  The quality and depth of human relationships, not the efficacy of the transaction, determine the value of the outcome. The transfer of knowledge or the delivery of a service may create the necessary conditions for progress but it is the special attributes  of the human bond that  console and strengthen, that nourish confidence, inspire self esteem, unlock potential, erode inequality and so have the power to transform. This is what we at Community Links calls the “deep value” in a successful relationship. It is not just about the spending of time but also about, in the words of  Cicely Saunders, “the depth of time.”

What, in practise, might this mean?

For government it means devolving power not only to cities and regions, thats just a beginning, but to the smallest viable unit of delivery. None of us feel human in organisations where everyone is just a number, and often a very long one. Policy makers used to talk about “double devolution” – from Whitehall to City hall, then from City Hall to neighbourhoods and communities. The phrase, and the practise, seems to have been forgotten in the most recent, welcome but inadequate, wave of half measures. It should be recalled.

For public service agencies, in all sectors,  it means conditions and protocols that recognise the primacy of the human interaction in all that they do, prioritising staff discretion and autonomy, systematising the consistency and stability of the client / provider relationships, planning ample time for relationship building and rigorously and  unambiguously separating  policing and supporting.

And for individual workers and small teams it means a clear set of competencies that can be articulated, taught, managed , appraised and replicated just like any other essential skill.

These would be ambitious and wide ranging changes, collectively revolutionary, but they all begin with having the maturity to talk about love and trust, the insight to understand its importance and the courage to design it into legislation, to services, to organisational processes and to our national discourse, not, as so often today, to very deliberately design it out.

Occasionally a debate in the House of Commons captures a public mood and elevates it. June 20th was such a moment. We share a responsibility to preserve the opportunity that it gave us, to nurture the new perspectives that it revealed and, step by step, to be directed less by custom and practise, rigid convention, unthinking adherence to rules and rote and guided more by our better angels.

 

 

This piece first appeared on : A Better Way –  the blog  of a new network of social activists challenging business as usual, improving services, and building  strong communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community Links and BNY Mellon announced as Charity Times Awards finalists

September 19th, 2016

Community Links has been shortlisted for The Charity Times Awards 2016. Our Future Links programme was chosen for the Corporate Community Local Involvement category, to recognise the work we do with young people in Newham, in partnership with BNY Mellon.

Working together for the past ten years, BNY Mellon and Community Links have designed and grown a pre-employment programme called ‘Future Links’ for disadvantaged 16-24 year olds in east London who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Together, we are addressing the 25% unemployment rate amongst Newham’s young people, whom account for 40% of the population.

Karen Green, Director of International Community Affairs for BNY Mellon said:

“We are delighted to have our partnership with Community Links recognised by the Charity Times Award judges. Since the launch of Future Links in 2010, BNY Mellon and Community Links have created, grown and refined a fantastic 10-week employability programme for young people, which has so far seen 373 graduate and 85% progress into sustainable employment or education.”

Our partnership programme is having a huge impact on the futures of young east Londoners. By exposing them to the world of work and teaching them new skills, we are empowering young people to progress into work or further education. The young people supported through Future Links often come from very challenging backgrounds or circumstances. Last year alone; 59% left school without any GCSEs, 11 had no parents/step-parents who they could depend on, and 6 had children of their own.

Yet, despite this;

  • 46 graduates from the course (78%) moved into a positive next step
  • 28 (47%) moved into sustainable employment in a variety of roles
  • 18 (31%) moved into education or training
  • 46 gained accreditations in areas such as Health & Safety, First Aid, Money Management etc.

The programme’s success also enables us to share our experiences to practitioners and policy-makers nationwide. We have used our experience and learning to date in a submission to the Parliamentary sub-committee on Education, Skills and Economy advocating the need for pre-employment programmes. Following this, we gave evidence to the London Assembly inquiry into diversity in apprenticeships.

The awards, run by Charity Times Magazine, celebrate best practice in the UK charity and not-for-profit sector. This year’s winners will be announced at the Charity Times Awards Gala Dinner and Ceremony on 28 September 2016 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London.

For more information on Future Links, you can visit this page.

Making apprenticeships work for all Londoners

September 7th, 2016

The London Assembly Economy Committee is today hearing evidence from Community Links on the lack of diversity in apprenticeships in London.

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘apprenticeship’? Most people would associate it with youth, opportunity and work. The reality is that if you are a young Londoner, from an ethnic minority or living in a deprived area, you are less and less likely to reap the rewards of the Government’s expanding apprenticeship scheme.

10 years ago under 19 year-olds made up over half of apprenticeship starts in London. Today that figure stands at just 22%. Those from ethnic minority backgrounds fare little better, being overrepresented in low level apprenticeships in sectors with a history of low pay.

Earlier this year we submitted evidence to the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy inquiry into apprenticeships, and called on the Government to address the growing underrepresentation of young people (especially those living in deprived areas). Today the London Assembly Economy Committee wants to know how the Mayor can help increase participation from under-represented groups, in good quality and higher level apprenticeships.

At Community Links we believe the Mayor and Government need to do more to support and prepare young people for apprenticeships, whilst ensuring employers are incentivised to offer the flexibility and understanding to take them on. We prepare thousands of young people in East London for employment each year and know they have the appetite and drive to become successful apprentices or employees, but often lack the social and communication skills. Our Future Links and Talent Match programmes deliver pre-apprenticeship and pre-employment training to young people furthest from the labour market. This training is focused on building individuals confidence, resilience, networks and skills and supporting them through the job application process.

The harsh reality is that the Government recently cut funding rates for the most deprived 16-18 apprentices by up to 50%, effectively disincentivising employers from taking on young people from deprived areas such as Newham. This move will only precipitate the steady decline in the numbers of young Londoner’s entering apprenticeships.

It’s high time we gave young people, ethnic minorities and under-represented groups a fair deal. This starts with ensuring they have the best possible access to high quality pre-apprenticeship training and support. Likewise employers need to be properly incentivised to recruit young people onto apprenticeships and to better understand their needs. Overall the Mayor and the Government should set hard and fast targets to dramatically increase the proportion of under 19-year-old and ethnic minority apprenticeship starts by 2020.

Summer in the city

August 26th, 2016

Five young people are walking slowly in front of me.  The youngest might be 10 or 11. The oldest maybe 14.  At each parked car, and there are many, they try the door handles without breaking step. Catching sight of me they pause silently at the corner shop and wait for me to pass. They don’t go in.  There is no hurry. They have nothing to do.

These kids aren’t on a mission.  They are idle and bored.  For the sake of their young lives as much as for the residents of Canning Town we must hope that nothing has been left unlocked on this hot afternoon. It is easier to make an insurance claim than it is to start adult life with a criminal record.

Later I will look randomly through old annual reports. I will check my memory. 20 years ago, in 1996, we were running 80 holiday play schemes open to all and offering more than 100,000 child day places. In the summer of ‘97, 2200 young people enjoyed a Community Links camping holiday – mostly in Epping Forest but some as far away as Scotland, Wales and even climbing in the Alps. Under the inspired leadership of Kevin Jenkins, now Community Links life president, we were touching the lives of generations for more than 30 years. Other organisations were doing similar good work on a smaller scale.   None of it was rocket science but it was constructive activity, it didn’t cost much, it built relationships and it kept children out of trouble.

Today across East London there is no more than a scattering of voluntary holiday programmes, mostly offering specialist provision. The larger number of commercial care schemes may be okay for the parents who can afford them, but they are expensive and out of reach for most of the families we know. The big, open community play scheme has very largely disappeared along with the statutory grants that paid for it.

Local councils spent £1.2bn on youth work in 2010/11 but, according to the British Youth Council this had fallen to £712m by 2013/14 – a drop of almost 40%  across the UK. The top line number is bad enough but it is worse on the ground because the cuts are disproportionately focused on those embattled authorities, like Newham, which have suffered most from successive and heavy reductions in their government settlement.

This is the harsh and mindless edge of austerity.  Holiday schemes were constructive, effective, fun, cheap and life enhancing.  The alternatives for young people like those in front of me today are none of the above.

Times change and organisations must change too. Community Links  moves positively in new directions but we would like to think that when we stop doing something it is either because the job has been completed or because someone else has found a better way of doing it. I realise with a heavy heart that neither apply in this situation.

A Question of Growth: Preventing Harm and Taking the Longer Perspective

August 23rd, 2016

Over the past month we have been posting a range of guest blogs on the topic of early action growth. In this final blog we attempt to draw out some common themes across them all and highlight the big questions.

 

 

 

In common policy maker parlance “growth” – largely referring to an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – is often synonymous with “economic success”. By this traditional measure alone it would appear that the economy has not done particularly well since Brexit, with the latest estimates from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) suggesting that in July GDP fell by 0.2%.

Measuring success

In reality GDP is just one indicator. It therefore only captures part of what constitutes “economic success”, and economic success is in itself only one way of thinking about progress. As many of our bloggers suggested in their pieces, this is fundamentally a problem of emphasis. The weight that we give to different measures frames what is recognised as contributing to human progress, and also therefore what is disregarded as unimportant. In this sense it is unhelpful to assume that any growth in GDP is axiomatically a good thing, particularly when we take into account wider social and environmental indicators.

Indeed, as Professor Anne Power of the London School of Economics (LSE) pointed out in her blog, “beneficial growth cannot be measured” by traditional economic indicators such as GDP, profit and Gross Value Added alone, as they are not necessarily “the best drivers of human progress”.

How, then, should we measure and define “good” or “beneficial” growth?

Many of our bloggers would agree that we should be wary of dismissing GDP entirely, with Dan Corry (New Philanthropy Capital) pointing out that this risks alienating policy makers and losing what is a useful, if partial, indicator of economic change. We must therefore supplement it with other concepts and measures. One suggestion, as advocated by most of our authors but particularly strongly by Anna Coote (New Economics Foundation), is to think about well-being: understood here as “the way people feel when they lead a good life, functioning well on personal and social levels”. This can be further expanded to include environmental wellbeing: although some of our authors differed on whether ‘growth’ in and of itself was an intrinsically damaging focus, they all broadly agreed that economic success cannot be decoupled from environmental protection and social progress.

Ultimately since growth is such a deeply embedded concept in our political lexicon, disregarding it doesn’t help us to communicate effectively with policy makers and politicians. However, we can be much clearer about the characteristics of good growth and much more explicit about promoting beneficial growth as opposed to any old growth. We are not attempting to come up with a concrete definition of “beneficial growth” in this summary blog, but it is clear that it has some fundamental elements to it. This was encapsulated by Anne Power when she wrote that we desperately need “a less greedy, more socially just, more equitable and more environmentally sensitive approach to growth”.

Early action is the foundation upon which this can be built.

Beneficial growth and early action 

So what does beneficial growth supported by early action look like in context?

Both Debbie Pippard (from Barrow Cadbury Trust) and Dan Paskins (Big Lottery Fund) suggest we should think differently about how we relate the early action agenda to market forces. Debbie’s argument is that the poverty premium, in which poor people end up paying more for essential services and goods, is hugely problematic not just for moral reasons but for economic ones too. If we could reduce or abolish it, one answer being through collective consumption practices, then we could free up more money for spending in the wider economy. Dan Paskins’ argument mirrors this, calling for early action strategies that “ensure the aggregate benefits of globalisation are shared more equitably”. By investing in early action – arguably the ‘social infrastructure‘ of the UK – we can intervene more efficiently in market failures and societal problems, leaving us with more money to invest in classic growth strategies around physical infrastructure such as transport, education, and science.

The point about investment is crucial. As Caroline Slocock (Civil Exchange) notes, early action is not a cost but an economic investment. We therefore need a positive cycle of investment in early action that clearly yields a return on investment (arguments around investing in science and education to increase our ‘human capital’ already recognises this), and there are already tools out there that can help us to measure this (for example in New Zealand). Other early action areas that are traditionally seen as costs rather than investments include welfare – something the Task Force has written on before – as highlighted by Neil McInroy (CLES), employment support, and mental health.

Ben Jupp (Social Finance) takes (un)employment as his focus, arguing that the massive inequalities individuals with mental health problems face in the labour market constitute “a major drag on our economy”. Governmental attempts to address this have been patchy to date – the Work Programme for example has been particularly unsuccessful at helping those with health problems – but there is hope if we can invest more money in early action activities such as Individual Placement Support that integrates health and employment support, starts with people’s wishes and aspirations, and aims to get people into work they actually want to do as fast as is appropriate. In doing so we can harness people’s potential and enable them to flourish.

Also thinking about mental health, Cliff Prior (Big Society Capital) discusses Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) as a newish form of investment that can yield social and economic benefits. For him – and indeed many of our authors – the argument that it is too costly to invest in early action is glib, particularly when you consider the huge economic and social costs of mental health problems. He points to several SIBs such as Newcastle’s Ways to Wellness and the Fair Chance Fund that are aligning funding from different sources for positive social and economic outcomes for individuals, communities, and for society as a whole.

Do no harm

Bobby Kennedy’s speechwriters did not write the following for our blog, but they could well have done. Of course the specifics are dated (it was written almost fifty years ago), and it is so frequently cited that it’s now a bit clichéd, but it’s worth repeating in full:

“Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.  Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.  It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.  It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. 

“Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.  And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

Therefore thinking about growth in terms of GDP/GNP (themselves not interchangeable terms) alone is unhelpful, and will only lead us down increasingly narrow corridors of thought and action. Relentlessly chasing meaningless targets – take, for example, the incessant focus and triumphalism around record employment figures by the current Government, with no real critique of the quality of the work that people find themselves in – will not create beneficial growth.

Early action provides an opportunity to not only broaden the debate, but to widen the horizons of what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve it. All future growth strategies should therefore take two principles as their starting point: for growth to be truly beneficial it must do no harm – to individuals, communities, or the environment – and take a long term view.

Applying these basic tests to any policy or activity would highlight those that were not likely to lead to beneficial growth – for example, a policy helping people into work, but mainly into poorly paid and insecure jobs – and those that were – for example, employment support that takes into account people’s needs and desires, enabling them to find appropriate, sustainable and fulfilling work.

To steal Cliff Prior’s conclusion: “good growth – sometimes you know it when you see it”.

Seeking the sunshine, then and now

August 18th, 2016

What would James Keir Hardie have done to end the civil war currently engulfing the Labour Party?

Probably not much more than anyone has been able to do in these recent turbulent times. He resigned the leadership of the party in 1908 largely because he couldn’t manage the internal rivalries. The path to what the Labour Party founder and one time MP for West Ham called the “sunshine of socialism was as bitterly contested 108 years ago as it is today. None the less there are lessons to be learnt from a man who truly broke the mould of British politics and who was, and who still remains, a local hero to many in east London

As the modern Labour party lurches like a Saturday night drunk from one clumsy fight to another we have an intriguing opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Keir Hardie.  A new play called “ A splotch of red” retells the story of this pioneering radical. It will run for 4 nights and one afternoon next week in the big hall at Community Links that once echoed to the perorations of the blazing Scotsman.  Written by acclaimed play write (and a Newham resident)  James Kenworth, it is the third in a series of unique collaborations between local young people and established artists. The Independent thought the last one was “terrifically powerful…highly recommended”.

At the time of Keir Hardie’s election in 1892 the borough that we now call Newham was “a little isolated republic outside the vast area of the metropolis where the factory and dockyard workers swept their human rubbish, the flexible labour of those marginalised women and men who powered and serviced the capital, concentrated in overwhelming numbers”.  (Claisse J, Will Thorne, the campaign for West Ham south.) Poverty today is of a different order but the distinctions between the work force in this borough and in some of our more prosperous neighbours is miserably consistent.

Some of Keir Hardies first campaign demands were met long ago –  an old age pension for instance. Others would not be out of place in Canning Town today. Lower and controlled rents, for example, and the taxation of land values are the kind of radical, heavyweight solutions that are needed now to shift the housing problems affecting so many of our current residents.

The new MPs first period in parliament, and tenure as our local MP, was relatively brief. A combination of a patchy performance in Westminster, local divisions and a revitalised opposition, led to his electoral defeat in 1895 but what the then cabinet minister Sir William Vernon Harcourt first described  as a “little splotch of red”  didn’t go away.  The first Labour Council was elected in West Ham four years later and Newham Council has remained Labour controlled ever since.

Of course James Keir Hardie was a 19th century politician and Community Links is a 21st century charity. We are very different animals but the connections are much more than locational. Keir Hardie believed it was important, indeed essential, to share the experience of poverty with the rulers of the day whether or not they wanted to listen. During his time as our local MP his was, often quite literally, a lone voice but he persevered, both in his period here and long after.  This determined visionary never lost his conviction that the world could be a better place.

Talking about poverty however was nowhere near enough. He was later to say “my work has consisted of trying to stir up a divine discontent”. This was the community organising of its day and profoundly pragmatic.

James Keir Hardie both spoke out and enabled the might of other voices to be heard.   Times change but challenges remain. The right principles have timeless application and they still live here.

Tickets for “A splotch of red”, are currently available here and priced at “whatever you can afford”.  I imagine that the driven and passionate man who once sat where I sit today, would have appreciated that.

Early action is vital to tackle the rise of youth violence in Newham

August 12th, 2016

Last month, London Mayor Sadiq Khan pledged £400k for the “growing problems” of youth violence and knife crime in Newham and other parts of London.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) figures, show there were 6,290 victims of serious youth violence between 2015 and 2016 in London, a 20 per cent rise since 2012-13.

Some 331 of these victims were in Newham.

We are very concerned that the number of reported serious youth violence incidents in Newham has increased dramatically in the last five years.

With nearly 40 years of working in Newham, it is clear to us that there is a definite requirement to help young people and prevent them from getting caught up in gang activity.

The new funding from the Mayor is welcome, however alongside working with young offenders, we need to act earlier and address the wider unemployment, housing insecurity and poverty issues which blight the lives of many young people and too often push them towards violence and crime.

What we are doing to tackle youth violence 

Community Links supports more than 2,200 young people across Newham every year, providing employment, enterprise and community development programmes to help young people build prosperous futures.

Our youth team work with young people at an early stage in schools, reach out to hidden young people through peer-to-peer outreach work and provide safe environments at our youth centres.

Our work with young people who are at high risk of entering gangs, is delivered through a range of dedicated activities via our community hubs, where young people can explore issues relating to gang culture.

We invite police officers to attend our early action workshops with young people to encourage healthy, trusting relationships between the police and young people. These workshops cover the consequences of offending behaviour, substance misuse and its role within gangs, girls and gangs, as well as ex-gang members who share their experiences.

This September we will be launching ‘More than Mentors’ across schools in Newham, which is an early action peer mentoring programme, engaging young people between 13-17 years of age. We will provide support/mentoring & coaching around mental health issues and empower young people to attain higher self-esteem.