London charity Youth PWR tackles youth crime and gang violence

Barry Lee lost his younger brother to knife crime a few years ago.

He is not alone.

Over 270 people were victims of homicides related to sharp instruments between April 2019 and March 2020, according to the Home Office Homicide Index.

Lee now fundraises for Youth PWR, a charity based in Croydon which campaigns against youth violence and crime, and aims to empower young people.

“What we do is raise funds to put money into youth clubs, boxing gyms, education training and workshops,” Lee said.

“I was a fundraiser anyway, it is something I have always done for quite a while then I heard about this charity and I thought that we’d help them.”

The charity focuses on tackling knife crime which, despite a decrease during the pandemic, still remains prevalent in the community: in the year ending 2021, there were 46,937 offences, according to the ONS.

While statistics don’t detail the social backgrounds of victims and perpetrators, research indicates there is a greater chance of poorer people being killed by violence.

In particular, young men are most commonly the victims of homicide relating to sharp instruments. Out of the 223 men who died in April 2019 to March 2020, 68 were aged 18-24, according to the Home Office Homicide Index.

Youth PWR’s work

The charity works with schools and communities such as Langdan Park Community School in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, an area known for gang violence and crime. It aims to engage and inspire young people to have self-hope and motivation to achieve what they want in life.

In November last year, members of the charity delivered a workshop to 180 Year nine students to tackle youth crime and gang violence in the area. The workshop covered topics such as gang culture, county lines, substance misuse, peer pressure, and healthy or unhealthy friendships.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “(We) raise awareness of various subject matters that are related and are of interest to young people such as mental health, crime and youth violence, career and employability amongst others, providing training support in areas such as IT and digital media.

“We also have an employability & creative programme which enables young people to create a better life for themselves and reflecting on bad situations by expressing themselves through a range of media.”

With the hope of encouraging for a better future, the charity aims to create positive environments for young people, allowing them to take part in extracurricular activities, mentor programmes and employment events.

In its magazine, as part of their #KnifeFree campaign, the charity offers advice for parents who wish to learn more about knife crime and how they can talk to their children about it.

As well as its campaign against knife crime, the charity also supports young people who are homeless and provides advice to improve mental wellbeing.

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