The gang violence epidemic in London is a problem with no easy solution. It is also a problem that we cannot ignore. As a housing association, it is our purpose to do more than just put a roof over people’s heads. We want to build safe, supportive communities where parents do not have to live in fear of their children being affected by violence. This is why we are so proud to be partnering with The London Community Foundation (LCF) and The Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund in funding essential projects to help tackle this crisis.
We believe that it is essential to invest in organisations on the ground who already know and understand the people they are working with. By giving these organisations the resources they need to get on with their vital work, we aim to help them reach those who may feel as though society has given up on them. To support this, we are collaborating with other housing associations, via the Housing Association Youth Network (HAYN) Youth Violence Forum to share best practice and ensure we are all improving the quality of services across our communities.
Through our Funding Plus initiative, we are also helping grassroots organisations to network with each other and provide a joined-up service that prevents people from falling through the cracks. We know that if a young person reaches out for help, it is essential to act quickly in providing it. By empowering these initiatives to collaborate, we hope to ensure that they can offer the best service to those who need it the most. Our neighbourhoods officers, who work on the ground in our communities, are also a vital resource in bringing projects together and providing an overview of the help available.
LCF recognises that, just as there is no single solution to the problem, there is no single cause. They are committed to looking at the different areas that can shape young lives, including school, family, employment, enterprise and trauma. These are areas that we have also been working across, and we view our new partnership with LCF as a continuation of this work.
So far, 6,500 children and young people have taken part in our activities including One Goal, the largest free holiday and activity programme in the country. We have also given scholarships of up to £17,000 to ten college students from financially excluded households so that they can go to university. We are also working with 30 London schools to offer children and young people opportunities to improve their skills ahead of joining the work force or going on to higher education as part of our Learning To Succeed programme. We also have a new Place Makers Fund awarding grants to support similar opportunities to improve young people’s lives.
We understand that young people respond to people they can relate to. Many of the people we have helped in the past through its education, youth work and scholarship programmes are now going back into the community and sharing their experiences. They, perhaps more than anyone, understand the importance of early intervention in helping young people to reach their full potential in life.
We believe that together we are stronger. By working in partnership, uniting organisations, communities and people, we have the best chance of reaching those who need us and helping to reduce the scourge of gang violence.