Earlier this week I met two important community groups: Another Night of Sisterhood (ANOS) and The LIONS Society. Both groups were set up by members of our community who had seen too many lives ruined by knife crime and gang violence in Croydon - both young people and parents.
This meeting was the first in a programme I'm calling 'Croydon Voice'. Across August and September I'll meet community groups, police and other organisations across Croydon who are working to reduce knife crime and youth violence in our town. I also want to meet families of those affected by knife crime or gang violence, and young people who have experienced it directly. Croydon Voice is about giving a national voice and a platform to those working at the grassroots, or experiencing the tragic consequences of knife crime directly. (Cont'd)
Sarah Jones with leaders of The LIONS Society and ANOS, including Donna Murray-Turner and Raymond Robb, 31st July in South Norwood
ANOS and the LIONS are doing fantastic work, including mentoring programmes, parent support, skills and employability, youth parliaments and much more. It was valuable to hear first-hand what could be done to enable groups like this to help even more people.
At the meeting we heard from some inspiring young people. Two young men from rival gangs had turned their lives around and embraced the world of business. Two young women, Elizabeth and Karleen, founded Periodical Diary to promote positive body image and raise money for sanitary products for disadvantaged women.
In the second stage of Croydon Voice I'll take what I've learned during these meetings back to Parliament. As promised at the election, I'm setting up a cross-party group on knife crime, and I've also secured a debate in the House of Commons on this same topic in early September.
I know there are many more groups and individuals doing important work in this area, or experiencing this tragic issue first-hand. So if you haven't heard from me directly yet, please get in touch - I want to hear from you. #croydonvoice