Addressing Gangs and Weapons Use in London - Young People Speak Out Embargo date: 21 July 2008

Press Release: 7 July 2008

Given the recent tragic events in London a 2 year research project led by young people launches its findings on how to address gangs and the use of weapons in the capital.

On Monday 21st July, The Building Bridges Project (BBP), based at Race on the Agenda (ROTA), launches its evidence-based report and screens its DVD at a youth-led conference endorsed by leading political figures and Criminal Justice organisations.

Team leader, Carlene Firmin 24, who herself has been affected by gang violence says that:

The Building Bridges Project is crucial in providing us as young people with a platform to inform decisions on an issue that affects us directly. It also serves to demonstrate that young people can and do make a positive contribution to society and we should be supported in doing this. We want to see a change and we want to be involved in all steps to see that this happens.

The youth-led event to launch this work will feature presentations from the Young Mayors of Newham, Lambeth and Lewisham and Dawn Butler MP; as well as youth led workshops run by the Black Police Association's Young Black Advocates, peer mentors from Foundation 4 Life and young researchers at Independent Academic Research Studies.

The BBP involved a total of 87 young volunteers with direct or indirect experience of street violence. It aimed to build bridges between people involved in the project, but also between those affected by street violence and those who create policies aimed at tackling it.

Dawn Butler, MP, Labour's Vice Chair for Youth has said of this project:

The Building Bridges Project is an example of the positive contribution that young people can make to the debate around gangs and weapons use; as well as to society in general. There is a lot that can be learnt from engaging in youth led work and it is important that we do this if we want to see change. Young people should be encouraged and supported to participate in debates which they feel strongly about and we need to create better links between government and young people.

For formation please contact Dinah Cox on 020 7729 1310/07850 523 337 or dinah@rota.org.uk

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