Identity, respect, survival…
…three reasons why so many teenagers in Britain’s cities are joining gangs.
An increasing number of young people are turning to their peers for the support they would traditionally have received from their families and communities.
Peer pressure, poverty, family breakdown and parents working long hours create the pressure – schools failing kids and a lack of suitable after-school activities give the extra push that takes young people into the world of gangs.
With the media’s often negative portrayal of young people and alarmingly regular news headlines reporting yet another teenage gang-related killing – in London alone there have been 23 in the last year – it would be all too easy to believe that today’s young people have no positive part to play in society.
But at Oasis we know different. Through our work with young people across the country – in schools and through projects like Hub House in London - we know that, given the right environment, support and activities, young people really can not only help themselves but also help others in the wider community.
Hub House, part of church.co.uk, offers a safe place for young people to just ‘hang-out’ as well as a range of activities seven days a week – from football (for boys and girls), cooking, basketball, singing and DJ-ing workshops and theatre trips to training in hairdressing and radio broadcasting on our very own station, Southside FM.
Brought up on a deprived estate in South London and seeking some form of identity – and a way to survive - Jeffrey got caught up in local gang culture at a young age. He became involved in drugs and criminal activities and only just survived a potentially fatal stabbing.
Thanks to the support he received at that critical time from the dedicated staff and volunteers at Oasis’ youth project, Hub House, Jeffrey chose to take his life in a new direction and is now leading by example. He’s taken full advantage of the many creative activities and training opportunities offered at Hub House that have been designed especially for young people with nowhere else to go after school or in the evenings and now produces radio programmes for Southside FM as well as studying at college.
He believes he survived his stabbing for a reason – to stop other young people’s lives being destroyed by peer pressure and gang culture - and now tells other young people who find themselves in similar situations, how they too can escape ‘the streets’ and do something positive for themselves and their wider community.
Pete Brierley, Youth and Community Pastor says “With the increasing frenzy surrounding gun and knife crime and gang violence it’s really important to be able to run a project that demonstrates that young people, like Jeffrey, are talented, have potential and can be constructive and inspirational. I believe that Southside FM gives a healthy alternative to an increasingly dangerous scene. By growing in their self-esteem and confidence, we hope that we can help young people to be able to make positive choices, even when that is difficult, and to understand their potential and worth.”
The local authorities and police also endorse the importance of Hub House and Southside FM. “From a police perspective we fully support this programme. It’s a good interactive project diverting young people from crime and helping them develop communication technology skills.” D.I. Ray McGeray, Kennington Police Station
We have great plans for developing and improving the activities that we offer some of the most vulnerable young people – such as Southside FM being on-air all year-round – and hope that you will support and follow the progress young people like Jeffrey make: