Hackney knife crime charity in timely relaunch of parent support programme

Rebecca and Keeley at the launch of Postcode Penpals in 2015.

Rebecca and Keeley at the launch of Postcode Penpals in 2015. - Credit: Archant

A grassroots programme supporting parents affected by knife crime is set to relaunch after being awarded much-needed funding.

Postcode Parents was initially set up in late 2015 by Hackney charity the Charlie Burns Foundation. Its timely return comes as London is in the grip of a violent crimewave that has seen six people killed in Hackney this year – four with a knife.

The organisation is run by Rebecca Luisis and her sister Keeley Burns – whose son Charlie was stabbed to death in 2014 in a row over a £150 debt.

With little funding and time to keep the project going, meetings eventually stopped last year. But a few months ago the pair applied for, and were granted, £3,500 funding by Clarion Housing Group’s community grants programme, managed by charity Groundwork UK.

That is paying to hire out Haggerston Community Centre for 12 months of meetings, the first of which takes place tomorrow night.

Rebecca said: “Though the meetings stopped we still had the Whatsapp group going. There are lots of parents in it who have lost someone but everyone has been affected by it. Everyone knows someone that’s gone.

“At the moment every time there’s a death it brings it all back for the parents. It’ll be good to see everyone face to face and give them a real hug rather than consoling them over the phone.”

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The meetings aren’t just for parents who have lost a child – it’s also for those who fear they might.

“We all need to come together,” said Rebecca. “The kids have no fear of the justice system and we need to make sure as parents we are aware of what’s going on. If we can stop one family going through what we have gone through, are going through and will forever go through then it’s worth it.

“Sometimes everyone is sat there laughing and joking. Other times everyone sits there crying.”

Sessions will take place fortnightly and different community organisations will also host monthly workshops.

Among the groups to have signed up so far are The Crib youth project’s Parent Voice coordinators and Father 2 Father, which supports adolescent boys and their dads.

For more details, check out The Charlie Burns Foundation on Facebook.