Knife crime has not gone away. Despite lockdown and social distancing knife crime has remained. Politicians argue how to deal with it, police struggle with the challenges they face but most importantly mothers and fathers are still losing their children.
Most days we hear of a stabbing or even more frightening we see stabbings in broad daylight, acts of violence that leave communities speechless.
Lucy is a family support worker and youth justice worker with many years experience behind her. She is also the director of a campaign called Operation Shutdown that has brought together many bereaved parents across the country who campaign tirelessly to put an end to knife crime. She will be writing on a regular basis for The Havering Daily to share her vast knowledge on knife crime and how it is destroying communities.
My name is Lucy and I live in a London Borough.
I’m a youth worker and anti knife crime campaigner, I am also the Director of Operation shutdown organisation CIC.
My determination to fight for justice began at a early age, after losing so many friends and family to knife / gun crime and violence. As well as alcohol and drugs, coming from a working class family, growing up on a council estate, life was full of injustices and traumas.
I was sick and tired of how people like me were treated, a young black working class girl and a victim of horrific crimes. I never got justice or help from the very people who I thought were meant to protect me, the authorities.
After losing loved ones to murder, first time was my lovely gentle giant cousin Dean. He was stabbed and killed at the park on a Sunday afternoon, he was just 16 years old. He was attacked because he refused to hand over his cigarettes and money, the boys who approached him started a fight and he was murdered.
I will never forget the images I saw that day, growing up I quickly realised there was no support for bereaved families. After each person was killed that was in it, no support. The pain and suffering was too much.
On my estate, looking back I had mental health conditions since I was a child and didn’t even realise. That’s why now- at the Operation Shutdown organisation CIC we support victims and bereaved families and we help young people divert from a life of crime and show them there are other options, apart from death and prison.
I never imagined I would actually turn my dream into a reality, but 21 years later I did. It’s a massive role to take on, especially when you dont have the support from Government. We’re a grassroots organisation. Who work alongside the VRU, Mopac, and all the other big Organisations in London, aswell as the Met Police, I’m like the in – betweener, the voice for the voiceless if you like. Seeking change and opportunities for our young people.
Its challenging and frustrating at times, but somebody has to do it. Mental health is a big issue in our communities, it’s often dismissed and there’s still alot of stigma surrounding it.
I did a reported film for BBC News – the Victoria Derbyshire show in 2016, about PTSD & Gang violence, because nobody ever really speaks about that.
Young people, mainly from estates or areas with high statistics of violence are instantly judged as bad people – bad kids. When in actual fact all they need is a little help and guidance and a-lot are suffering from some form of poor mental health and or a anxiety disorder.
They have lost friends or family to violence or seen the news and are fearful to go outside, unless escorted in a taxi or car. Imagine what that feels like, terrified to go outside because you might be murdered for your appearance or the area you live. Kids don’t get to have a normal childhood anymore, well not kids from working class families and the ones that live on estates. These young people and families are tramutised and scared. There’s thousands walking around with undiagnosed mental health conditions, they’re not even aware there’s something “strange” happening in their mind. They feel it’s “normal” to feel trumatised and scared, and sadly they often pick up a knife or weapon, not with the intention to kill but out of fear. Sadly we know, more than often a young person will be killed with that same knife.
I encourage young people not to carry but to speak to somebody and get help. Which I know is not easy.
Email me if you need support – I will help you. Info@operationshutdown.org.uk
I dont want to see any more parents lower their child into the ground, or hear that awful, awful scream from a mother, who I have just told her son is dead. It’s heartbreaking, beyond words.
So we as a community must make it our duty to spot the most vulnerable in our community and help them. They don’t need prison – they need help. Prison is a punishment, it doesn’t reduce crime, it makes a person worst, those with mental health issues suffer even more.
They’re then let back out into society and commit crime again, as there is no rehabilitation.We need Rehabilitation, more than ever. Although I believe people should be locked away from the public if they pose a threat and are a danger to society, they need to face the consequences of their actions, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they don’t. But Prison should always be the last resort, when nothing else works.
The government need to make more effort and pump more money into early intervention and prevention. There’s too much talking not enough action. Instead of trying to put a plaster over a wound. Prevent the wound in the first place.
It’s mental health awareness month, and I would urge & encourage you, the community – to check up on a young person and speak to them, see how they feel, if you know somebody needs help, try to get that help for them.
As adults it’s easy to judge, when we read a news article – not knowing the back story behind it.
We must all be pro – active and play our part, not wait for violence to knock on our door before we care, we should all care.
I fear about the rise in violent crime after Lockdown. Now is the time to stand up.