Josh doing detached youth work in Angell Town
Through innovative detached youth work and partnerships with local groups, the Brixton team are living and working for peace in and around the Angell Town estate in South London. One year in, Team Leader Josh tells some of what has been happening and what he’s been learning as he seeks peace in these communities affected by violence and tension...
As a team in Brixton we have significantly grown our youth work on the estate and it feels like we are making some great progress in relationships with young people. My colleague Nathan and I are on the estate regularly and have built some positive and consistent relationships with a group of young people who are in years 6-8.
We have also been able to start dialogue with the parents and carers of the children, and I have begun to mentor one young man that we met on the estate. On Wednesdays, I collaborate with the local secondary school to run a lunch club and do mentoring there, and we plan in the Autumn term to mentor more young men from this same peer group.
Over the past year we have been thinking and reflecting on the symptoms and causes of youth violence and have identified some key areas to develop for our work. We are looking at transitions as a key theme - understanding that young men and women do not have the same methods to move into young adulthood as were previously available.
This results in a prolonged adolescence - something which is endemic in young people involved in youth violence. By working to enable this transition through our individual and group work, we hope to have a significant impact on these young people and their involvement in this violence.
We are also thinking about how we address the geographic nature of youth violence. We are in the process of setting up a partnership project with another youth organisation in south Brixton with the aim being to build relationships with young people on different estates in the area. The long term view is to enable these young people to work on practical projects together - small businesses, social action, art...whatever they decide - to develop positive interactions that bridge the conflict divide.
This is an exciting time full of possibilities and emerging relationships with young people and our community. I am excited for what the future holds as we continue this imaginative approach to engaging in peacemaking and reconciliation in Brixton.
The team enjoying community meal outside the CHIPS flat
New Brixton team members amidst rise in violence
Over the past few months there has been a huge spike in violence across the estates. 13 stabbings and 4 shootings have struck at the heart of the community. Whilst there were no fatalities, some young people have been left with life altering injuries.
In the face of such violence it can feel difficult to know how to proceed, and frustrating that the path to peace is a long one. However, it has been hugely encouraging to see the Brixton team expanding in response to this violence.
We welcome Nathan, who is already involved in detached youthwork with Josh, as well as Angharad, who works in reconciliation. As a larger and stronger team we hope to be better equipped to confront the problems affecting the community.