The streets of Catford and Peckham saw a huge, life affirming march on Saturday 10 June, when the Victory Youth Group (VYG) turned out in force to raise awareness of peer on peer knife crime. This is a fast growing problem among the capital’s young people, with knife attacks involving injuries to victims up 20% to 4,415 in 2016/17.
Over 600 youths, aged 14 to 25, gathered at the UCKG HelpCentre in Bromley Road, Catford, where they were addressed by Lewisham councillors Janet Daby and David Michael, who came along to support the youths’ positive action.
Cllr Michael encouraged the young people to liaise with their local councillors, to nurture good relationships and to support the community in working together to make their respective areas safer. Cllr Daby emphasised the importance of unity through youths from different cultural and social backgrounds coming together to take a stand against violence.
Youth mentor Ayo Akinduro then shared his experience of being involved with the wrong crowd and carrying a knife for protection before joining the VYG. Having left that life behind, he now helps others to do the same.
Carrying placards and wearing tee shirts that proclaimed ‘life’s worth living’ the young marchers, sang and chanted their message, ‘drop the knives and save the lives’ along a route that took them towards Lewisham Shopping Centre, and DLR station and along Lewisham Way. Heading through New Cross Gate towards Queens Road, they passed Peckham police station to end up at Peckham UCKG HelpCentre.
Over the two hours of the march, there was plenty of positive reaction. Local people along the route commended the initiative, liking the idea that there are youths out there that do not accept what is happening.
The event ended with motivational talks from Southwark councillor Johnson Situ, Brighton-based centre forward Kevin Lisbie, and UCKG HelpCentre member, Andrew Dixon who turned his life around after past involvement in violence and robbery which led him to prison. Spoken word poet Suli Breaks from Wood Green, north London wrapped up the day’s events with a special performance.
Speaking after the march, Cllr Janet Daby said: “I was happy to speak to a diverse crowd of young people from across London who were making a difference and standing up against peer on peer youth violence. This was a heart warming and inspiring event. It was well organised and attended. The passion was lovely and the message was clear – knife crime must STOP!”
Notes to editors
UCKG is a Christian church and registered charity that offers a range of practical support activities alongside spiritual support and comfort. It reached the UK in 1995 and has gone from strength to strength, providing support and spreading the Christian faith through its branches in England and Wales.
VYG is the youth arm of the UCKG HelpCentre, and works to help young people develop their full potential. VYG started in the UK in 1996 and has been growing steadily ever since. Over 1,300 young people attend VYG meetings every week, sharing sessions that include practical teaching, fun and spiritual development.
For further information please contact the UCKG HelpCentre Press Officer via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org or direct line 020 7686 6033, or call the PR consultant on 07867 510909.