Safer London charity gets £10,000 to pilot Hackney project diverting girls from gangs
PUBLISHED: 09:02 27 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:02 27 March 2017
Three mentors are being trained up to inspire vulnerable young women in Hackney who are at risk of being drawn into violent crime and gang-related exploitation.
The charity Safer London has received £10,000 from the Home Office for the six-month pilot from the Home Office.
The idea is to stop girls, aged from 11 to 18, being drawn into a destructive lifestyle by intervening at an early stage.
Leader of Safer London’s Empower project - which works with young people affected by child sexual exploitation and gangs in 14 London boroughs - Becky Fedia, said: “There’s nothing particularly about Hackney that makes it any better or worse in terms of gangs and child sexual exploitation - all of the boroughs I work in are going through similar issues.
“But because of the Integrated Gangs Unit, there is more identification of the issue in Hackney, which means we are able to show support is needed.”
“Hackney is unique in that there aren’t many neutral places - there is a lot of rivalry in close proximity. You have young people who could be affected travelling to go to school or youth clubs. A lot of the young women we work with have been victims of sexual violence or physical violence as a result of gang tensions.”
Girls will meet weekly with a mentor to explore any goals they may have like wanting to learn how to cook or getting fit.
“The pilot is not intended for young people who have had horrendous experiences,” said Ms Fedia.
“It could be because they have a partner involved in gangs, a close relative, or school have concerns about them being involved in negative peer groups.
“It’s about guiding them into positive things, focusing on their ambitions, and building up a relationship of trust so they are able to speak about their experience with that mentor.”
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor should see saferlondon.org.uk/get-involved.