21 January 2013
London teenagers who have been caught up in youth violence are to work with gang members from elsewhere in Europe under a new scheme that aims to stop more young people suffering.
The youths from Westminster will produce posters and a website with counterparts in Cordoba in Spain and the Italian city of Pescara. They will draw on their experiences to promote an anti-street violence message.
The scheme, funded by a £330,000 EU grant, will also lead to the production of leaflets and a newspaper, as well as radio and video broadcasts.
The 20 Londoners involved are former gang members or victims of youth violence. They will work with police, councillors, schools and residents to draw up ideas on how best to reduce gang problems.
One of the participants, Abdel Cheddoud, 17, of Queen’s Park said: “We know the issues and how to speak to people who are maybe thinking of joining a gang. Our main message is that you have a choice, and choices are what makes us. If you’re being controlled by your friends, we want to say: you’re your own person.”
The project, Youth Secure Streets, will be based at the Churchill Gardens estate in Pimlico. Westminster said it was the first cross-Europe project on tackling gangs. Nickie Aiken, Westminster council’s cabinet member for children, young people and community protection, said it would also provide skills that would improve job prospects.
She added: “Gangs and street violence are an issue around the world. By putting our heads together with different countries we can get a fresh insight on how to tackle the problem.”