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New report calls on better collaboration between government, Ealing Council and community groups to tackle youth violence in Southall and Norwood Green

A report by the Young Ealing Foundation (YEF) into tackling youth violence in Southall and Norwood Green is calling on Ealing Council and others engaged with improving the lives of the borough’s young people to be more empathetic to them, empower them to manage conflict and invest in community centres to be safe spaces where they can feel secure and connected to their community.

The report, Tackling Youth Violence in Southall and Norwood Green, was written by Hollie Hartley, member and youth voice manager for YEF.

There were five key findings:‘Young people feel unsafe in their community’, Young people are not well equipped to peacefully manage conflict’ , ‘Young People have a negative perception of the police’ , ‘The poor physical appearance of the environment has a negative impact on young people’ and ‘Young people see some value in therapeutic support’.

YEF hosted a launch event for its findings at Dormers Wells school in Southall where they went through the report and urged those who support young people to improve what they are doing by focusing on children’s needs.

The findings call on collaboration between government, council and community groups needs to actioned with young people being listened to and being directly involved into what actions will be taken based on their life experiences.

Ms Hartley said: “I am passionate and Young Ealing Foundation are passionate about centring the voice of young people, and ensuring their voices are heard particularly around the issues that directly impact them. They are the experts in their own experiences and therefore hold the best solutions for the problems they face. And that was the purpose of this report, to highlight both their feelings about violence in their communities, and what they believe are some of the solutions to addressing these.”

She added: “And the purpose of today is that we listen. And we look at what they’ve said. And we look at what we’re already doing, and who else might be in the room who’s doing different things, what we can learn from them, and how we can reach out and work together to address what the young people have said.”

Addressing statutory groups from local and national government supporting young people, Ms Hartley wanted them to read through the whole report. She said:  “I really urge you to go away and to read it in more depth and really reflect on it with your teams with colleagues, even as a community and think about the recommendations and what the young people have said to you.”

The research was carried out on behalf of Ealing Council and funded by the London Mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and asked young people aged 11-17 four questions:

What factors contribute to young people being affected by crime in Southall and Norwood Green?
What factors make young people feel unsafe in Southall?
What existing interventions have been used to address youth violence?
What makes a positive community?

Three focus groups took part in the research which involved 24 young people.

The report said: “Ultimately, no organisation in the borough can achieve this alone – we must ensure that we approach the issue of tackling youth violence holistically, with statutory and community groups coming together to provide welcoming, safe spaces and access to empathetic, empowering, trusted relationships for children and young people.”

It further added: “Working together as a sector to promote a more trauma-informed basis for our work is vital, as by understanding the context of an individual’s behaviour allows for a more empathetic response. We must find ways to model peaceful conflict resolution and empower young people to manage conflict effectively. Thirdly, we must invest in safe spaces for young people, so they can feel safe and connected to their community in their leisure and development activities.”

At the launch event, one local teenager who experienced youth violence and was attacked by someone who thought he was responsible for an accident said: “There’s too much crime and there’s not a lot being done. The police don’t do much at all.”

The teen also raised his concerns about drug addicts in the local area, the danger of local alleyways where people congregate and how it needs to be better monitored and made safe. His views highlighted a key finding in the report that said: “Young people are left feeling unsafe from drug users, dealers, and alcoholics in their community.”

The environment and pride in how Southall looks was important to young people, the report found. “100% of the young people we spoke to stated issues of how their environment looked and how this made them feel about Southall. Young people stated ‘Rubbish/pollution impacts mood’, ‘council don’t care about the environment, rubbish and unclean’ and ‘pollution, waste, and being dirty gives a negative impression’. It was felt by three young people that there was a lack of ‘care’ from those in positions of power and that Southall had been ‘forgotten’. None of the young people we spoke to stated that they had any positive feeling or pride in how their community looks. ”

EALING.NEWS asked Ealing Council for a comment on the findings of the report. A Council spokesperson said: “The report was commissioned by Ealing Council with funding from the Violence Reduction Unit. The Young Ealing Foundation consulted with young people on what made them feel unsafe and what they saw as the solutions. The solutions put forward are really good practical ideas, some of which the council is already doing, and some ideas can be adopted by Ealing and partners to make a difference to the lives of young people in Ealing.”

They added: “These ideas will be considered as part of a further violence reduction capacity building initiative to make young people feel safer and respond differently to traumatic situations with the long term aim of reducing violence.”

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