UCB hosts forums on tackling gang violence
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Teenagers, families and youth workers learned about the impact of gang violence during a hard-hitting talk at University College Birmingham.
UCB lecturer Craig Pinkney held a forum entitled “Choices?” for 13 to 19-year-olds living in inner-city Birmingham. The youth work specialist spoke about the repercussions of getting involved in gang violence and how the choices young people make affect their families and communities. The event was staged as part of the EUGangs project.
Almost everyone who attended the event has had their lives affected by gang violence in some way. I wanted them to think about their individual responsibility, accountability and train their minds to think about how they can take preventative measures. An important part of the EUGangs project is bringing these very real issues to the forefront of people’s thoughts, raising awareness of how many young people deal with these situations on a daily basis and how we can help, as a community, to help reduce gang violence.
The audience was shown brutal images of victims injured in gang attacks. In a video interview, a young woman described the effects of getting involved with local gangs in Birmingham. Pinkney also highlighted the impact of social media and how misuse can spark unanticipated consequences.
The group heard from two Birmingham youths, Shayne Campbell and Karim White, who had been involved with gangs, made bad decisions and, as a result of their choices, had opportunities to live a normal life taken away from them. Shayne and Karim also spoke about positive influences they have received that have since helped to turn their lives around.
These forums are an opportunity for industry professionals to get a better understanding of how to work with young people affected by gang violence. To ensure that they get the help they need, it’s important to bring the right people together to facilitate the best support. I hope that these forums will encourage practitioners to reflect on the services they already offer and generate a deeper understanding of these young people’s lifestyles and the skills needed to work with them.
The “Choices?” forum was the first of four events which will focus on an area of gang culture and are aimed at young people, youth work practitioners and probation service professionals.
University College Birmingham is as a member of EUGANGS, a collaborative project involving professionals in five countries who are working to research, develop and accredit a new vocational/professional qualification for those working in Gang and Youth Crime environments across Europe.