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Far Far Away, Beyond the Word Mountains
The borough’s gang problem is not a widespread issue affecting the entire population, however Frederick Bremer School works closely with the London Borough of Waltham Forest to help stamp out gang crime in the borough and fully support young people who may be under pressure to join a gang or who may struggling to leave.
Frederick Bremer believes that every child should have the opportunity to make the most of their current situation and believes that by providing pathways to continued education, further training or job opportunities the school can have an impact on a young person’s decision to join a gang.
The School have appointed a designated Single Point of Contact to help support young people with all gang related issues or concerns. Please contact the staff member who is responsible for this area and or the Designated Safeguarding Lead if this is not the same person and record the concerns in CPOMS.
Enough is Enough - Waltham Forest Gangs Intervention Project
Enough is Enough is Waltham Forest Council's innovative 3 year gangs prevention programme set up to address gang culture in the borough, an award winning and unique multi-agency gang prevention programme that seeks to:
• Offer individuals and their families a way out of gang life
• Increase the number of violent criminals being brought to justice
• Reduce the fear of crime in local communities
• Increase public confidence in the Council, Police and their partners
The project has full cross-party political support, involvement from talented community members and high-level buy-in from all public and voluntary sector partners.
Launched in 2011, Enough Is Enough seeks to address gang culture and its root causes head-on. The project draws from a wide variety of disciplines and recognises the fact that viable solutions to ingrained societal and economic problems are required rather than headline grabbing quick fixes.
Enough Is Enough seeks to help those who are deeply entrenched in gang culture; those who are most at risk of joining gangs and those who are affected by their family members’ destructive choices. Uniquely, the programme engages with the whole family and attempts to address the many different factors that can draw people towards a life of crime.
The borough’s gang problem is not a widespread issue affecting the entire population. As well as working with gang members and their families, the project has the support of the local community and draws heavily from their on-the-ground knowledge and their own desire to make their neighbourhoods better places to live. The involvement of the councils Executive Head teacher ensures that educational issues and early intervention practices are incorporated within the programme.
The final strand of the project is acknowledging the fact that while we can seek to engage with those affected by or involved with gang crime, some will simply not accept our help. We are therefore working closely with our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service to crack down on gang activity, share information and encourage residents to report criminality. Our overall message has to be simple: we are here to help, but if you refuse to accept our assistance we will do everything in our power to stop you in your tracks.
Waltham Forests innovative commissioning has brought together a range of experts hailing from a wide array of different backgrounds and professions encompassing social work, housing, substance abuse, education, and unemployment. Local community involvement includes 13 voluntary/community sector organisations commissioned to deliver a variety of intervention and diversionary projects for young people and their families who are at risk, involved in or on the periphery of gang violence. This includes services for victims.
The four themes of the programme are:
Family Partnership Team
First and foremost, our gangs’ prevention programme recognises the fact that young people can be drawn into gang lifestyles via different routes and for many different reasons. As such, any ‘one size fits all’ response to the problem would quickly flounder, and a careful, tailor-made solution to a family’s individual needs is necessary. This multidisciplinary, Family Partnership Team are currently working with 43 young people and their families.
Beyond the Family Partnership Team itself, tackling gang crime is a Council-wide priority, with buy-in from managers and staff from the chief executive and council leader down.
While professional expertise is naturally a key driver for the programme, the Council also recognizes the invaluable insight and support of local residents for whom gang activity represents a considerable issue. The borough is fortunate enough to be home to several active, interested and passionate individuals whose aims and aspirations mirror our own and who we are working alongside to
achieve shared aims. Named the ‘A Better Way Partnership’, the group
currently comprises 25 members from a unique range of backgrounds and professional disciplines. The Partnership exists to ensure the successful deployment of the borough’s gang prevention programme by ensuring the programme is comprehensive and continues to reflect community needs and deliver innovative projects into high risk communities.
Since the launch of the programme, the A Better Way Partnership has gone from strength to strength. It now features 25 dedicated members who comprise private sector success stories; public sector experts and trusted community figures whose grassroots activity has made them trusted figures to some of the borough’s most disenfranchised young people.
The Partnership aims to help and assist the Council and its partners, but it is clear that its role must also be that of critical friend where necessary, unafraid to question and provide constructive critique. The role of the A Better Way Partnership was highlighted during the unrest of August 2011 spilled from neighbouring Tottenham into our own borough. Though more than 70 businesses suffered we firmly believe that without the links and early intelligence forged by the A Better Way Partnership the story would have been very different.
While we will do everything we can to engage with gang members and steer them away from harmful, destructive behaviour, we also realise that some individuals will simply refuse our help. Enforcement, therefore, is a constant theme and while this is naturally the remit of our partners in the local police the Council has, in turn, worked with housing associations and drug agencies to support these sensitive operations.
Since the launch of the programme and the hand-in-hand work of our police colleagues, the borough has witnessed significant decreases in gang-related violence including gun crime, knife crime and robbery. While we would be hesitant in suggesting these figures are wholly as a result of the borough’s gang prevention programme we nevertheless believe them to be grounds for cautious optimism.
While many of the effects of gang crime are hard to put a price on (e.g. fear among residents; lack of inward investment; a transient population) some, such as costs to businesses, housing providers and the NHS are more quantifiable.
As well as helping those who have been involved in gangs or are on the cusp of becoming involved, a key aim of the project is to protect younger family members and prevent them making the same destructive lifestyle choices as their siblings. To this end we have:
• Worked extensively with local schools, introducing the ‘Stolen Lives’ and ‘Big Question’ primary resources to help with the issue of gangs
• Created a self-assessment risk management tool for schools and youth organisations in relation to health and safety, anti-social behaviour and serious youth violence. This is being examined as a model of good practice by the GLA and the Youth Justice Board
• Designated a Victims Champion from Victim Support whose role includes a heavy focus on young people affected by gang violence
• Secured funding for educational support to provide specialist educational and safeguarding knowledge with regards to school age students.
• Brought in an early intervention advocacy worker to work with the Family Partnership Team in engaging younger siblings who are at risk of gang involvement
• Implemented the Growing Against Gangs & Violence (GAGV) programme which is delivered free of charge to all schools in Waltham Forest.
To find out more about the Enough is Enough click here.