After a rise in teen violence in the London Borough of Redbridge, a Green Lane based group held a vigil in honour of victims of violent crime in hope of sending a strong message of unity and solidarity amongst local youth.
The East Ilford Betterment Partnership a constituted community group made up of local residents and businesses, joined up with young teenagers from the borough participating on the National Citizenship Service with national charity ‘The Challenge’, to hold a programme of events designed to promote unity amongst the diverse communities especially young people in the borough.
During two days of the regular monthly community fayre in Ilford teenagers and volunteers joined with E-Gangs an anti-gang charity and Ilford Town Centre Police to advise on safety, provide counselling and friendship and to condemn the use of knives and guns and other violence.
Faisal Gill an accomplished Pakistani Christian rapper from Islington, who lost his cousin Jacob Abraham to a violent crime incident in November last year (click here), composed a rap that he performed both outside the town hall and before a peace vigil held by the teenagers outside the Redbridge Peace Memorial, located at Winston Way Roundabout, Riches Road. The words of his rap described the pain, loss and suffering that violent attacks cause and the futility of violence which only leads to loss for all parties involved.
Pastor Andrew Willis from High Road Baptist Church, gave a short talk before leading vigil participants in a short prayer, in what was a very moving event:
Young people at the two day violent crime awareness event and vigil were collecting money for a non-alcoholic bar for teenagers at Clementswood Community Centre. It is hoped that with the help of local caseworkers and NGO’s that short talks at the bar will help veer teenagers away from violent crime and promote more positive futures.
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One of the young teenage volunteers, Chinwedu Akus was moved to write a poem about the violent social malaise that has plagued teenagers in East London. She recited the poem at the Redbridge Peace monument vigil.
LIFE IN THE EAST
Just another day
Another individual’s struggle
Life in the Eastside of the City
Ain’t nothing round here but trouble
In the year 2018
London caught a disease
89 people killed
40 of those bodies lay in the East
We all thought Newham had it tough
A city of angels where demons lurk
But on the outskirts of East where things are posh and pretty
Jordan said something wrong, and he got it first
It seems like this disease is spreading
Can’t be controlled in the East side of the city
A boy in Chadwell Heath got a knife in his eye
If you and me saw that sight it ain’t so pretty
You’d think living as a youth is an accomplishment
But they won’t even let you finish your last days
78 years old from Harold Hill
Stabbed 4 times in a state of confusion and craze
6 bodies dropped in Barking and Dagenham
2 mothers felt the same pain
Within the space of 3 weeks that is
Probably wondering what the murderers gained
An increase in the rank of reputation
Another dose of evil to feel less vain
Another threat eliminated
But the mothers are out here going insane
Her teenage son does not laugh at her scolding
He does not lose her attention for FIFA
He does not stay up at night talking to a female
He no longer smells of reefer
Maybe cause he’s no longer there
Feels like a large black hole
This mother stares and reminisces
Of the last time her son came home
Senseless murder here
Senseless murder there
Senseless murder in the East
Senseless murder everywhere
Waltham Forest and Redbridge keeping up the pace with their trifectas
Say something wrong and the boys are coming to get ya
It’s unfortunate cause they don’t know the impact of their ways
Clueless kids, is it the government’s fault that they don’t know that this isn’t just a phase?
I think we got the doubting disease
The doubt we’re not safe
Everyday we walk the streets
Just to come home and see other families feel pain
Another boy dead in the city
Another victim claimed
But it’s just life in the East
There’s no loss but where is the gain.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chair of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
“The slogan for the event was designed by the young participants themselves. They engaged well with people of all diversities and ages in a spectacular event which helped sow seeds of peace and bring unity to our many communities.
“Working with directly with young people to tackle teen violence is the most sensible option. Not only does it ensure that our programmes are relevant and encompass the needs of our younger generation, but it also creates an invested desire and commitment amongst the volunteers to be part of the movement for change.”
Pastor Andrew Willis, Faisal Gill, Harveil Toor Leader of Redbridge Antisocial Behaviour Team and Wilson Chowdhry in Ilford Town Centre
Teenagers set up a fund-raising stall to help initiate non-alcoholic bar for teenagers.
Participants wore the slogan No knives, better lives on their fore-arms.
In total 14 teenagers participated at the event (not all shown in image)
Face-painting workshops led by NCS staff helped raise funds for the BPCA non-alcoholic bar.
E-Gangs met with young people to share their work and provide counsel.
Faisal Gill and Wilson Chowdhry