Youth worker and ‘son of Hackney’ is mourned

Tributes have poured in this week for the ‘son of Hackney’ who tirelessly devoted himself to getting a fairer deal for young people.

Gary Francis, born in Hackney, lost his battle with cancer on Sunday June 3 aged 45.

A dedicated member of Hackney Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) for nearly six years, Mr Francis worked on the young people’s stop and search monitoring group project until a few days before he passed away.

“To say he was a fighter is an understatement,” said Jake Ferguson, Chief Executive of Hackney CVS. “The list of things he has done is endless.

“He helped to bring understanding about the gang dynamic and the best ways of helping young people out of gangs.”

Mr Ferguson said he was working to hold the police to account about the disproportionate number of young black men stopped and searched.

In 2006 he organised Peace Week, which attracted 100,000 people to a concert in Shoreditch Park.

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Jennette Arnold, London Assembly Member for North East London, said: “We have lost an inspirational man and a true and wonderful son of Hackney.

“He was a shining example of the best of Hackney and he will stay with us in our hearts.

“I worked with him through the dark days of Hackney and he never gave in. He just said we have got to find a way.

“He was proud of Hackney, he worked in Hackney and he was totally committed to doing everything he could for young people especially young black boys.”

Gary’s funeral will be held on June 22 at 10.30am at St Peter in Chains, 12 Womerlsley Road, N8 9AE. He will then be laid to rest at Manor Park Cemetery. There will be a funeral reception from 2-8pm at Chestnut Community Centre, The Pavillion, St Anne’s Road, South Tottenham, N15 5BN. All are welcome at the funeral and reception. Gary’s family request that those attending do not wear black.

The CVS have set up the Gary Francis Memorial Fund to help young people facing hardship or trying to develop business ideas to combat unemployment. Donations can be made at