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Community engagement at work

COMMUNITY: A young boy at Proud of Southwark event talks to Safer Transport Team officers

On Saturday (December 3) a community engagement fair entitled Proud of Southwark, was held at Walworth Academy in Southwark, south London.

It featured a live panel debate, which gave the public a chance to look at issues behind August’s riots across Britain.

The panel discussion also sought to get community-led reasons on why young people get involved in - and solutions on tackling - gang culture and gun and knife crime, which were described during the discussion as a “cancer” that was hurting communities and destroying too many young lives.

The panellists were George Ruddock, The Voice’s managing director, Detective Sergeant Janet Barracks, deputy chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association (MetBPA); Chief Superintendent Wayne Chance, Southwark’s Borough Commander; Peter John, Southwark’s council leader; Junior Smart, a former gang member who now runs support service, the SOS Gangs project at St. Giles Trust and Grace Idowu, mother of murdered teenager David Idowu. She runs the David Idowu Foundation, which she set up in his memory.

ALL EARS: Attendees listen to the panel discussion

The event is a partnership between Safer Southwark Partnership and local community organisations, supported by Metropolitan Police units such as Trident and several other organisations, including the Metropolitan Black Police Association, the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust and The Voice newspaper.

During Proud of Southwark, the public also heard from local youth organisations and the police, among them Southwark’s Safer Transport team, Southwark’s youth council, police unit Trident and charities such as the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), Empowering People for Excellence, Bede House, a hate crime victim support service and the Activities Communities Network, which uses sports, art and cultural activities to improve youth citizenship, social inclusion and community cohesion.
Attendees also got the chance to learn the salsa, enjoy Caribbean food and write their own notes about how they feel about living or working in Southwark.
One note said: “I’m proud of Southwark because it’s trying to work with the community to make things better for everyone.”
The notes left behind will be used to build a Proud of Southwark wall similar to the “wall of love” featuring supportive and well wishing post it notes that were left on boarded up shop fronts in Peckham, south London, after the riots.

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