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Latest News 2021-04-20T18:37:40+00:00

LONDON BARBER SHOPS TRAINED TO TEST BLOOD PRESSURE

Tuesday 20th April 2021

London South Bank University (LSBU) Croydon BME Forum and Off The Record have today (19.04.2021) launched a project to train barbers to measure and give advice about blood pressure to their customers. The UK-first project has trained eight barbershops who have customers from Croydon to provide on-the-spot blood pressure checks and provide health information to them.

The London barbershop blood pressure testing project is inspired by a successful health study in Los Angeles barbershops in 2018 which resulted in 68% of those with high blood pressure ending the study with healthy blood pressure levels.

Around 30% of men in the UK currently have high blood pressure, around half of these are not diagnosed or receiving treatment. High blood pressure is the third biggest cause of disease in the UK, leading to kidney disease, vascular dementia and mobility problems, costing the NHS £2billion every year. The London barbershop project will target Black and Asian men who are more likely to have high blood pressure and less likely to be diagnosed than the general population.

The eight London barbers who will be providing blood pressure tests are: Finishing Touches (Mitcham), Yian the Barber (South Norwood), Cutter Hair Doctor (South Norwood), J & D Doyleys (Thornton Heath), House of Bertrand (Bromley), Da Ace Of Fades (Thornton Heath), The Barber Shop (Croydon) and Juls The Hair Klinik (Mitcham).
The project is being run in partnership with two Croydon-based organisations, Croydon BME Forum and Off The Record.

Nicola Thomas, LSBU Professor of Kidney Care and barbershop project lead, said,

“For the first time in the UK, barbers will offer testing to their customers to find out if they have high blood pressure and then give advice about how to reduce it.

“Sadly, millions of adults in the UK have high blood pressure and half are undiagnosed which can lead to strokes or heart attacks. Our Croydon barbershop project aims to understand if we can run a similar project to the one in Los Angeles. It is the trusting relationship that customers have with their barbers that is so important – we need to take healthcare out into the community.”

Hugh Benain, from Finishing Touches barbershop, said,

“It’s great to be taking part in this important project to tackle high blood pressure in the community. We’ll be offering our customers on-the-spot blood pressure tests and health information for them to take away. High blood pressure is a silent killer and providing tests and information from our barbershop could save lives.”

CENSUS DAY 2021

Friday 19th March 2021

The census gives a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales.
It gathers vital information tht helps plan and fund public services, such as transport, eduction and healthcare.
By taking part and encouraging others to do the same, you will help make sure your community gets the services it needs.

 

Census Website

ROYAL VISIT FOR COMMUNITY VACCINATION CENTRE IN CROYDON

Friday 5th March 2021
The Duchess of Cornwall visited the Community Vaccination Centre at St Paul’s Church in Croydon (3rd March 2021).
The royal family has been vocal in its backing of the Covid-19 vaccination, with the Queen encouraging those hesitant about it to “think about other people rather than themselves”.
Her Royal Highness was greeted by Dr Agnelo Fernandes, GP lead for Croydon and introduced to NHS staff, clinicians, administrators, volunteer marshals and representatives from the church and local community.

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, GP lead for Croydon, said: “We are immensely grateful for the support of our staff and all the volunteers who have come forward to support our effort to protect as many people as possible from Covid-19 and it was an honour to see them to be recognised in this way.”

 

Andrew Brown, CEO of the BME Forum, said: “We are so proud to be working with our local doctors across Croydon’s NHS to help get the message out about the vaccine programme.  We are working with our partners to engage our local communities to give them a chance to ask experts about the vaccine so that they can make informed decisions.”

Ima Miah, CEO of the Asian Resource, said: “This partnership has really shown that we can reach the most marginalised communities with a bottom up approach. The medical community and the voluntary sector have worked together to tackle misinformation and increase vaccination uptake in BAME communities. This visit by the Duchess of Cornwall will help to motivate the team even more and is a testament to our hard work.”

St Paul’s Church first started vaccinating on Wednesday 13th January 2021 and has delivered both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccinations. The visit did not disrupt the vaccination of local residents who continued to have their injections while the Duchess of Cornwall spoke to staff, volunteers and patients.

St Paul’s is being used as a centre for administering the jabs and has delivered over 13,000 vaccines to protect Croydon residents from Covid-19.
The NHS in South West London has delivered over 360,000 vaccinations to date. While the religious services have moved online at St Paul’s, the church itself has been repurposed to facilitate the rollout of vaccinations in the Croydon area.
11 local GP practices have come together as part of two Primary Care Networks to run the vaccination centre.

CROYDON ORGANISATION WORK TO DISPEL COVID-19 VACCINE
MYTHS IN BAME COMMUNITIES

Thursday 4th  March 2021
Croydon BME Forum is joining forces with local organisations in a bid to inform the black community about the Covid-19 vaccines following the recent low uptake.
A recent study by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that 21 per cent of black people over the age of 80, who are currently eligible to have the vaccine, have been vaccinated compared to 43 per cent of their white counterparts.
Other studies have found that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities of all ages are unlikely to have the jab when offered. This is despite research that claims black people are twice as likely to die from the virus.

Croydon BME Forum is partnering with South West London CCG and the Asian Resource Centre to deliver an outreach programme aimed at those from BAME communities to inform and answer questions. Upcoming plans include interactive Zoom events, smaller community sessions held online and video interviews with health experts.
Andrew Brown, CEO at Croydon BME Forum, said: “Covid-19 has disproportionately affected people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

“Many more are dying from the virus, yet many from these communities are refusing to be vaccinated when asked.

“We know many have concerns, which is why they are hesitant to take the vaccine, so over the next few months we will be engaging with local communities to give them a chance to ask experts about the vaccine so that they can make an informed decision.”

On Thursday, February 11 the forum held an event titled ‘Croydon Asks: Should we take the vaccine?’.

LOCAL ORGANISATION WORKS TO DISPEL
COVID-19 VACCINE MYTHS FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY

Thursday 18th February 2021

As many as 50 per cent of the black, asian and minority ethnic community have refused to take the vaccine and health professionals have been answering questions at a series of seminars to dispel real fear, anxiety and mistrust.
A lot of the scaremongering has been generated on social media and doctors, nurses, faith and community leaders want decisions, to have or not to have the jab, to be informed by facts rather than misinformation, lies or hearsay.
Among the more creative stories circulating is that the vaccine can change your physical appearance and that you could grow a tail! A panel discussion organised by Croydon BME asking ‘should we take the vaccine?’ saw four doctors and a faith minister answer questions at the online event which was attended by 800 people.
Croydon BME Forum has joined forces with local organisations in a bid to inform the black community about the Covid-19 vaccines following the recent low uptake.
A recent study by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that 21 per cent of black people over the age of 80, who are currently eligible to have the vaccine, have been vaccinated compared to 43 per cent of their white counterparts.

LOCAL ORGANISATION WORKS TO DISPEL COVID-19 VACCINE MYTHS FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY

Wednesday 10th February 2021

Croydon BME Forum is joining forces with local organisations in a bid to inform the black community about the Covid-19 vaccines following the recent low uptake. A recent study by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that 21% of black people over the age of 80, who are currently eligible to have the vaccine, have been vaccinated compared to 43% of their white counterparts.

Other studies have found that BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities of all ages are unlikely to have the jab when offered. This is despite the fact black people are twice as likely to die from the virus.

Croydon BME Forum is partnering with South West London CCG and the Asian Resource Centre of Croydon to deliver a virtual outreach programme aimed at those from BAME communities to provide information, answer questions and challenge the myths which are circulating around the vaccine. Upcoming plans include interactive Zoom events, smaller community sessions held online and video interviews with health experts.

AAndrew Brown, CEO at Croydon BME Forum, said: “Covid-19 has disproportionately affected people from ethnic minority backgrounds. Many more are dying from the virus, yet many from these communities are refusing to be vaccinated when asked.

“We know many have concerns, which is why they are hesitant to take the vaccine, so over the next few months we will be engaging with local communities to give them a chance to ask experts about the vaccine so that they can make an informed decision.”

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, a GP in Thornton Heath, said: “Covid-19 has caused higher infection and death rates among BAME communities, so it’s really worrying that so many in the black community are reluctant to have the vaccine.

“We understand there is a lack of trust which stems from racism and education and health inequalities, but if you want to help slow the virus, save lives and protect yourself you should learn all the facts and then make an informed decision about the vaccine.

“I’m really happy to be working with Croydon BME Forum on the Covid-19 vaccination outreach programme. I look forward to providing factual information to help people make informed choices. I hope we are able to engage with many people in the borough and dispel some of the myths that are going round in the community.”
Dr Fernandes is working with Croydon BME Forum on its virtual outreach programme. The next online event is called ‘Covid-19 and the Vaccine – Should the Black Community take the Vaccine?’ taking place on Thursday, 11th February between 7pm-9.30pm. To register please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/covid-19-croydons-black-community-asks-should-we-take-the-vaccine-tickets-138052383395?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

HOW CROYDON BECAME A HOTBED FOR A VACCINE MISINFORMATION

Monday 8th February 2021
Source: The Telegraph by Morgan Meaker

Misinformation on social media is turning BAME groups against the vaccine.
Community leaders say they expect the problem to get worse
When a TikTok user filmed himself shouting “liar” at England’s chief medical officer in a London food market this week, the video gave a glimpse of the fevered Covid conspiracies spreading among young people on social media.
Particularly in diverse parts of the capital, researchers are raising the alarm about online misinformation which is fuelling intense government mistrust and persuading Black and Asian minority ethnic (BAME) communities, already disproportionately affected by the virus, to shun the vaccine.
There are fears this is already having an impact. A study released last week by Nuffield Health, found just 20.5pc of black people had been vaccinated so far compared with 42.5pc of white people.

In North Croydon, one of the capital’s most ethnically diverse constituencies, where more than 60pc of people are from Black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) communities, the medical director of the local NHS Trust, Dr Nnenna Osuji, Medical Director of Croydon NHS Trust, said: “Right now, this misinformation is costing lives.”

Inflaming distrust in government

Outside the local Croydon University Hospital, passer-by Tim* outlines the far-fetched conspiracy that he believes lies behind the Covid-19 vaccine. He speaks slowly and carefully, as if trying to explain something complicated to a child without making them feel stupid. “You need to open your mind,” he nudges.

Leaning against the wall that separates the hospital garden from the pavement thoroughfare, the 31-year-old falsely states the virus has been created by a “New World Order” to scare people into taking the vaccine. The vaccines are really an attempt to kill-off large numbers to get the human population under control and protect natural resources. He offers no evidence to support these beliefs.

Tim knows these ideas are considered conspiracies. They are entirely untrue. But false and dangerous opinions are finding new audiences as people, locked-down inside and stuck online, look for new ways to understand the pandemic. Will he take the vaccine? The short answer is no.

Ideas like Tim’s are causing deep concern among Croydon’s community leaders. “When we first did our survey, the word “culling” kept coming up over and over again,” says Ima Miah, chief executive of Croydon’s Asian Resource Centre, explaining how the false theory that Covid was a big government conspiracy to kill BAME people is a sentiment that still resonates.

Tackling online misinformation in communities like Croydon will be a major test for the Government. Conspiracies are running rampant on apps like WhatsApp and combating it requires deep and nuanced cultural knowledge.

Words such as “airborne” mean entirely different things in Bengali, while some groups, such as the south Asian Silhetti community, communicate in an oral language. “How do you get literature across to an oral language?” asks Miah. “You don’t, you have to speak to them, you have to do videos.”

One December survey, taken during an online event hosted by the Croydon BME forum, showed 34 per cent of attendees said they were not likely to take the vaccine, with 25 per cent still undecided.

The trend appears to be reflected in the number of people attending their vaccine appointments too. “We know we’re not getting the same uptake across the entire population,” says Croydon’s Dr Osuji.

At the same time Croydon NHS was brainstorming how to combat social media misinformation, the local hospital experienced first-hand what it was like to feature in a viral anti-vaccine campaign.

COVID-19 VACCINE COMMUNICATION MATERIALS 

 

Thursday 4th February 2021

Vaccine information in community languages
NHS doctors, nurses and other frontline staff have come forward to help reassure communities that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and have been independently tested to the highest standards.

Clinicians have recorded messages in some of the most commonly spoken languages – apart from English – in the capital to help ensure messages about the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine reach all Londoners.

They explain how the vaccine is given, and give clear evidence that the vaccines work and are safe.

Download the videos via the links below.https://www.england.nhs.uk/london/our-work/covid-19-vaccine-communication-materials/

LETS TALK COVID-19 VACCINES

Tuesday 26th January 2021

Incase you missed it, you can catch a recording of our “Let’s Talk Covid Vaccines” webinar on our Youtube channel, featuring key speaker Dr Agnelo Fernandes, providing you with the science behind the vaccines.
Discussion and Question & Answer session about the science behind the vaccines.
Speakers :Dr Agnelo Fernandes

“Have your say”

Tuesday 19th January 2021

 On Thursday 21 January, 1pm- 2pm

Croydon BME Forum have been asked to work with Croydon Council in asking for feedback on its savings proposals for the next three years and wants to hear from as many people as possible. The proposals impact public services we all use – including parks, libraries, leisure centres and voluntary groups.

If you would like the opportunity to hear more about their plans and give your views on how they could do things differently, join the Zoom meeting with the council’s engagement team. Findings from the session will help the council shape its budget plans.

The council has to save money, but your feedback could help shape how they do it – don’t miss out on this chance to have your voice heard.
The survey is open online until 24 January – if you can’t come to the Zoom session, you can read an overview and fill in the short survey at www.croydon.gov.uk/savingsproposals If you need an accessible version of the survey or would like to give your views by phone, call 020 8604 7114 between 10am-4pm, Monday – Friday.

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://croydon-gov-uk.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUldumqrTspHNYj4kMS7AM6MFk31aGE195i

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting

Community Volunteer Opportinity

Monday 11th January 2021

Volunteer Role Description
Croydon BME Forum has been funded to run the long-term conditions (LTC) project between 2020 – 2021 in collaboration with the Asian Resource Centre of Croydon.  The aim of this project is to educate and empower families in the black, minority, ethnic (BME) communities, so we can create a healthier and knowledgeable society.

The LTC’s this project will mainly focus on are;

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Respiratory Illnesses (COPD)

Community Champions Overview
The role will be to support the work of the Long-term conditions (LTC) and Expert Patients Programme (EPP) project coordinators by acting as ambassadors for the programme. It will be of particular importance in the recruitment process that these candidates have connections/access to the Croydon BAME communities they will be serving.

This will enable them to provide education and information about;

  • Key risks of LTC’s
  • The importance of early diagnosis and treatment to avoid complications
  • The importance of lifestyle changes i.e. stop smoking, sugar consumption
  • The importance of recognising signs and symptoms of LTC’S i.e. Diabetes
  • Risk and complications that can arise from existing conditions e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes and highlighting risk of stroke and heart attacks.

 

To apply for this role please send your CV and a covering letter stating what you feel you can bring to this role to tracy@bmeforum.org or if you would like to discuss details of the role further contact Tracy on 07706 846 402

A Community Conversation with Hamida Ali 

Monday 14th December 2020

Don’t miss out on our webinar next         
Thursday 17th December 19:00

Croydon BME Forum is hosting a Community Conversation with the new Leader of Croydon Council, Hamida Ali at 7pm on Zoom.
Councillor Ali will be engaging with us and answering your questions.
Join us as she shares and sheds light on the issues of interest and concern to our community – from the council’s current financial position, right through to her plan of action for the borough.

If you have any questions for Councillor Ali, please send them to info@bmeforum.org.
Stay in touch with us online and let us know your thoughts!

Diabetes rates increasing across ELL boroughs as Covid impacts on sufferers

Monday 16th November 2020

GPs and support groups have highlighted the issues faced by diabetics during the pandemic, as figures released by Diabetes UK World Diabetes Day this weekend show that diagnoses of the disease are increasing in all of the Eastlondon lines boroughs.to coincide with

The charity found 23,348 people are living with diabetes in Croydon, 7.14% of the borough’s population. This represents an increase of 6.12% since 2018. Tower Hamlets is not far behind, with 6.65% of its population diagnosed – an increase of 6.42% from 2019, when the borough had the second highest rate of diabetes in London.

In Lewisham, diabetes affects 17,099 people, an increase from the 15,000 cases recorded last year, while City & Hackney have the lowest amount, with 15,229 people diagnosed, or 5.9% of the population.

The increase is a particular worry this year because diabetics “have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19,” Diabetes UK said in a statement. “Around a third of those dying in England from Covid-19 had diabetes, and the relentlessness of managing diabetes has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

Dr. Osman Bhatti, the Chief Clinical Information Officer for the East London Health and Care Partnership told ELL: “All long-term conditions – including diabetes, hypertension, etc. suffered from patients not being able to get their blood tests or reviews done due to COVID and these having been postponed.”

Healthwatch Croydon found that some diabetics in the borough struggled to access vital podiatry check-ups as well as diabetic-friendly food during the pandemic. Other residents could not get access to food deliveries because they were not deemed vulnerable people by the government.

BME diabetics

Gifty Nmaju, operations and finance manager of Croydon BME Forum and chairman of the Diabetes UK Croydon group told ELL that BME diabetics have faced particular struggles in the borough.

“For the past two years Croydon BME forum, in partnership with Diabetes UK Croydon, has run a successful walking group. But during the first lockdown we were not able to meet. The group carried on with online yoga, but this is not the same as meeting each other. Some people experiencing loneliness are getting through their hoarded tins of comfort foods and are struggling with a restrictive diet.”

But efforts have been made since the first lockdown to ensure diabetics receive better care under the new restrictions. Bhatti added: “Tower Hamlets – as it always does – is leading the charge to get patients reviewed as soon as possible.

“There have been hiccups, e.g. when the local lab ran out of reagents to do blood tests, but this is now back up and running. Patients are having their reviews again and we are being more efficient in getting them in for all their checks, such as diabetes foot checks, blood pressure, blood test[s], urine tests and then following up on the phone.”

Positive developments

Nmaju said there have also been some positive developments since the start of lockdown: “Since our normal diabetic support and exercise groups can’t meet physically, we are meeting on Zoom and having good quality presentations by local clinicians or Diabetes UK speakers followed by discussions with our lively members.”

Local groups in both boroughs are also continuing to raise awareness about the disease and offer support to their diabetic residents during what has been a difficult year for them.

Croydon’s Covid-19 alert level

Wednesday 04th November 2020

High’ local alert level

You will have heard that infection rates are increasing rapidly throughout the capital and that the whole of London, including Croydon, is now in the local alert level currently at HIGH.
This means new rules are in place to reduce the rate of transmission and keep Croydon safe.

The key change is:
You must not socialise with anybody other than members of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place, including pubs and restaurants.

Please continue to:
Keep your distance
Wash your hands
Wear a face covering

Rule of six – do not meet in groups larger than six (see further guidance for your setting)

If you have Covid-19 symptoms you must self-isolate while you arrange a test, or if you are advised to because you have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive.

New leader for Croydon Council

Monday 26th October 2020

Councillor Hamida Ali has tonight (22 October) been elected as the new leader of Croydon Council at an Extraordinary Full Council meeting.Councillor Ali has served as ward member for Woodside since being elected to the council in 2014. She has held the position of cabinet member for Safer Croydon and communities since May 2016 and has led on high-profile areas of work including the establishment of the borough’s pioneering Violence Reduction Network. Her appointment as leader follows the resignation of Councillor Tony Newman earlier this month.

“Croydon is the most exciting and vibrant borough in London and I am deeply honoured to have been elected to lead the council at this crucial point in time”
“This is a time of unprecedented challenge for Croydon as we continue our work protecting the most vulnerable and supporting residents and businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as getting to grips with the council’s significant budget challenges.
“Working with my talented new cabinet I am committed to opening up the council’s decision-making process and putting our finances back on a stable footing so that we can focus on continuing to deliver high-quality services in a way that is sustainable for the future.
“It is a long road ahead but my cabinet and I are determined to provide the leadership Croydon needs to overcome the council’s current challenges, support our community through Covid-19 and deliver the excellent services residents deserve.”

Cheryl Fergus-Ferrell CroydonFM Connects 

Monday 19th October 2020

Croydon FM CIC is a community-led online radio station offering a range of radio shows broadcasting daily consisting of music and discussions such as mental health, crime, life aspirations and personal development.
Their shows are conducted by voluntary members who are based in Croydon offering local people the first step into an industry that is often hard to access.
On Wednesday 14th October host Cheryl Fergus-Ferrell was joined by Croydon BME Forum Staff Stella Bolt to talk about the BME Community, surviving in lockdown and Black History Month.

Click here to listen to show

Croydon Tribute to Keyworkers: Black History Month 2020

 Friday 09th October 2020

“The world is a wheel. When we rise or fall, we do it together.” – Cassandra Clare

This year, we’re not only reflecting on what has been but we are inspired to use our history to shape the future we want to see. This is why our theme for 2020 is ‘Learning from our past to create an equal future’. We celebrate the Black Lives Matter movement and we also pay tribute to our key workers who worked tirelessly during COVID19 to keep us safe and to keep society moving.

One of the ways we have done this has been by creating a video to express our gratitude, together with representatives of our borough to say THANK YOU to all of our key workers.

A special thank you to all who took part in this production.

Black History Month 2020

 Monday 05th October 2020

On Thursday 1st October the Croydon community celebrated the start of Black History Month 2020 online.

Streaming live on Instagram and Youtube.
Special guest on the day DJ MilkTray, Singer and TV Host Roger Samuels and Anthony ‘pass da mic’ King.
Guest appearances Madam Mayor of Croydon and Cllr Patricia Hay Justice

Guided by you – Healthwatch Annual Report 2019 – 2020

Wednesday 1st July 2020
Croydon BME Forum feature in Guided by you – Healthwatch Croydon Annual report.

Find us on page 14 discussing what well-being means to BAME residents to support creation of our new Wellness Centre in Croydon.

“The Croydon BME Forum was excited to collaborate with Healthwatch Croydon on this project.
 This research was needed due to the overrepresentation of the BME community members in crisis and acute mental health settings.
 In 2018, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust reported that BME population in Croydon made up 56.1% of their caseload on acute wards.
 The feedback from this research is being used so that we can deliver a BME wellness centre that supports the adult community in attending to and learning about their wellbeing.”

9 OUT OF 10 BAME MICRO AND SMALL ORGANISATIONS SET TO CLOSE IF THE CRISIS CONTINUES BEYOND 3 MONTHS FOLLOWING THE LOCKDOWN

Friday 5th June 2020

THE FINDINGS OF SURVEYS WE CONDUCTED SUGGEST THAT IF THE CRISIS CONTINUES FOR UP TO 3 MONTHS, CLOSE TO 90% OF 137 BAME LED MICRO AND SMALL ORGANISATIONS WHO RESPONDED TO THE SURVEY COULD CLOSE PERMANENTLY WITHIN 3 MONTHS IF THE CRISIS EXTENDS INTO JUNE.

The report, Impact of COVID-19 on BAME community and voluntary organisations, is based on two surveys administered between 19 March and 4 April and received 182 responses, of which 137 were Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) led organisations.
The surveys predated the revelations captured in the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre’s report which has been reported on extensively since it was identified after 4 April. 

 

According to the Guardian, for example, that report suggests that the early figures on the incidence of Covid-19 showed 35% of almost 2,000 patients in intensive care units were black or from another minority ethnic backgrounds, despite BAME people making up only 14% of the population, according to the last census.
The first wave of survey results predates the announcements, which started to unpeel some of the voices heard across BAME communities from personal stories that were not being reflected in any mainstream media outlets, until the ICNARC report. The survey report shows that, far from being passive recipients of the virus, BAME communities are fighting shoulder to shoulder with other communities being affected.

Celebrating culture and embracing diversity

Monday 1st June 2020
FATIMA KOROMA, DIRECTOR of Revivify CIC Foodbank, and member of SI Croydon, was elected President at their recent Zoom AGM.

“I hope to encourage new membership and opportunities for us and other women to partake in activities involving women worldwide.

“Thank you also for the support given from the onset of the epidemic, it feels strange starting my year with this looming over us but I’m confident we will do our best. I especially appreciate how members have adapted to technology. I’m sure that’s a definitive ‘first time’ holding an AGM on a digital platform.

It reflects our diversity and willingness to adapt. In the current circumstance this will help us and other women feel empowered to do more in their communities. “This leads me to my theme this year; Celebrating culture and embracing diversity.

“The Covid 19 epidemic has given us all time to reflect on our lives and how we can help others in our community. So we look forward to encouraging new membership this year. At this stage we are planning programme action and wish to have a positive impact on local women’s lives.

“As someone who has worked with food poverty for years, I look forward to promoting the end of hunger; no child or adult should go hungry and I also will campaign for food security and improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. “Our programme action will reflect the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This will allow members to participate with “calls for action” across a variety of themes. New members are encouraged to get involved and share their ideas. “Worldwide food poverty affects women adversely. The consequences of this often lead to trafficking, and domestic violence. I would also like to work with local organisations to raise awareness for, or to benefit, women. “With the eradication of poverty, particularly among women, as the main theme of my year, I hope Croydon members will get behind me to support CAYSH (Croydon Association for Young Single Homeless) http://www.caysh.org/ a charity which supports homeless young people, and is on the frontline of dealing with young women facing abject poverty. “I’m confident that our vibrant community sector will have us involved in various additional themes and programme action work and look forward to working with them and with the club to have a successful and enjoyable year ahead. “I have taken much guidance from my group and got involved in my own capacity, this was encouraged by members, especially from Grace Onions. So I am pleased to wish her well in her new role at Region. “I look forward to a year of productive programme action, friendship and collaborations within our community and beyond.” FATIMA KOROMA, PRESIDENT SI CROYDON

Book a space

Mental Health Awareness week 2020

Monday 11th May 2020

Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.
Mental health awareness week aims to get people talking about their mental health and reduce the stigma that can prevent people from asking for help.

During Mental Health Awareness Week Croydon BME Forum and Off The Record will be having discussions/workshops on the challenges and changes we have had to make as a result of the lockdown and how this has impacted on our mental health.

Monday 18th May 2020 7:00pm -8:30pm
Thursday 21st May 2020 2:00pm – 3:30pm

Good News Stories

Tuesday 14th April 2020

Good News Press Release from The Ubele Initiative
Andrew Brown from the Croydon BME Forum made us aware of the incredible work the following organisations are doing. The Cassandra Centre, Project 4 Youth Empowerment and Revivify CIC have rapidly adapted their services and have formed the following initiatives in response to the urgent needs of their communities. Well done to the Cassandra Centre, Project 4 Youth Empowerment and Revivify CIC.
The Cassandra Centre is offering a free online counselling service and is also delivering hot meals to vulnerable people.
Project 4 Youth Empowerment is providing community outreach work and delivering hot meals to families in need.
Revivify CIC through partnership with Good Food Matters, Revivify CIC sourced, redistributed and cooked meals for over 100 residents. Moreover, with the support of volunteers from mutual aid groups and the local community, Revivify CIC made 107 food parcels that were delivered to those who are unable to access food at this time.
The Ubele Initiative will be hosting a Zoom Meeting in partnership with Croydon BME Forum to be held Wedmesday 15th April 2020.
A disussion on exploring how to support your clients/your organisation during this pandemic including Covid-19 fundraising advice.

Croydon BME Forum works with community Groups on Zoom.

Monday 6th April 2020
Over the next four weeks Croydon BME Forum willbe engaging with its members in new ways.
Please join us for our first set of zoom meetings.
Tuesday 7th April – Domestic Abuse and Emotional Wellbeing
Thursday 9th April- Boost Immune system and Healthy Eating
Thursday 9th April – Invisible Mental Health and impact on Young Children
Wednesday 15th April  – Fundraising Advice
Thursday 23rd April – Mental Wellnes and Child Engagment.

Use the social Media links to keep updated on Croydon BME Forum.
Currently we are working on using these platform to update the BME Croydon community.

Facebook   fb.me/CroydonBMEForum
Instagram  @CroydonBMEForum
Twitter       @CroydonBMEForum   

Covid-19 Coronavirus

Monday 16th March 2020

The health and safety of everyone in Croydon is our biggest priority. The council is acting on the advice from Public Health England and working closely with colleagues in the NHS to support the national effort to combat and contain the coronavirus.

On Monday 16 March, the government announced new guidance for residents in single and multi-occupancy households with possible COVID-19 infection, which includes social distancing measures to reduce the risk of infection from the spread of coronavirus.

Croydon BME Forum Launch – The Wellness Centre

Thursday 20th February 2020

Newly launched, and unique to Croydon. Bringing a friendly, safe, and comfortable space to access free wellness activities and information. The Wellness Centre is founded and run by Croydon BME Forum the umbrella organisation for Croydon’s Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voluntary and community sector and a leading BME Forum in the country.

We know that everyone wants to look after their health and wellbeing but sometimes don’t know what the best things are to do or how to access the best advice and support.  So – we plan to plug that gap! We will provide the opportunity to experience a range of activities and events that will help you look after your own wellness and gain information about services within Croydon which support your health and wellbeing.  By being based in the Whitgift Centre we aim to be as accessible as possible – we encourage anyone to drop in and see what we have on offer! Our opening hours are Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm and Saturday 10am – 4pm or you can check out our programme on our website www.cbmeforum.org.

Andrew Brown, CEO from the BME Forum, said The Wellness Centre will have a great range of creative, fun and enjoyable activities which all contribute to us keeping ourselves well and it will also be an important place to obtain information on a range of health and well-being resources and services provided by key partners. These include Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, Croydon Council, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Off the Record, South East Cancer Help Centre and other friends of the BME Forum.

We will be offering holistic and complementary services such as seminars, workshops, health checks, fitness, creative activities, first aid training and much, much more – all in the name of Health and wellbeing for ALL!

We are still developing our full programme of activities and information sessions, and they are falling into the following categories

• Activities that make physical activity fun! For example, Fit Club
• Activities that help you relax and feel calm – like Tai Chi
• Activities that enable you to get into your flow of creativity – like drumming!
• Looking after new babies can be very stressful – so Mother and Baby Disco will help you relax and make friends and baby will enjoy it too!
• How to access health screening and support for a range of conditions, like diabetes checks, high blood pressure checks, alcohol and drug awareness
• Confidential help and support with FGM
• Support for you to make the most of life’s opportunities like counselling and mentoring
• A range of workshops include those to deal with Sleep deprivation, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Men’s Wellbeing Session, Mental
Wellbeing, Stress Management.
• Opportunities for volunteering
• Young Peoples Mental Health Session
• Advice for support when living with long term conditions
• How to access support when living with Domestic abuse
• Activities for the over 55s

MOPAC Community Connectors Project

Thursday 05th December 2019

The Croydon BME Forum’s MOPAC Community Connectors Project helps parents, carers and professionals connect with local organisations who work collaboratively with children and young people aged 8-25, who are at risk of offending, gang involvement or becoming NEET to tackle any underlying issues they may have and to offer successful solutions that will help them with their life choices.

 This could include connecting to services that offer:

  • Mentoring and counselling to release and unlock potential
  • Guidance on positively engaging with organisations and social media
  • Careers information that leads to education, training, employment or creating an enterprise.
  • Personal development workshops that build confidence, self-esteem and help strengthen family ties.
  • Assistance to find activities or events that are enjoyable and create new interests.

By working in partnership with other organisations, the project aims to help facilitate a greater understanding, awareness and access to local community support and activities available for children and young people and to encourage better sharing of knowledge to identify gaps, opportunities and duplication to develop better outcomes.

The programmes run by the four Community Connectors and other organisations they can link you to are tailored according to need.

Surrey Street Market – Celebration of Black History Month 2019
FREE Event Saturday 19th October

Thursday 12th September 2019

This October, Croydon BME Forum in partnership with Croydon Council will be celebrating Black Businesses and Entrepreneurs.
The event will be an opportunity for black business owners to pitch and promote their products,ideas and services in the Surrey Street Market.

It is a good communications event in helping with networking other Black business owners and increase sales.
So we are asking the wider Croydon Community to come down on Saturday 19th October and support the BAME Community.

For more info: Email:info@bmeforum.org Phone: 02086843719 Instagram:@croydonbmeforum

Teenage football teams compete to kick out knife crime

Friday 14th June 2019
Over a thousand people gathered at Crystal Palace Football Club’s ground, Selhurst Park,  Saturday 25th May to participate in Cut It Out 2019, a football tournament that aimed to unite the community against knife crime.

The Cut It Out 2019 event was organized by Croydon BME Forum, along with Croydon Council, Croydon police, the Palace for Life Foundation and other community groups. The event championed the council’s Choose Your Future campaign, which aimed to tackle serious youth violence and support young people to make positive choices.

Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities expressed her appreciation for the opportunity: “I’d like to thank all the councillors who supported the event through their ward budgets given its purpose to bring young people together with the police and the council to break down barriers in the fight against knife crime.”

 

For the past few years, a variety of measures were introduced by the council to ease crime tension, including campaignsand workshops to tackle young people’s mental health concerns, as well as initiatives to open up job and education opportunities for residents. Cut It Out aims to raise public awareness towards knife crime.

Other participating teams included All Inclusive Football Team, Croydon All Stars, Croydon councillors, Croydon Female All Stars, City Hall staff, the Fathers Forum, Lions Society, London Road Businesses, Neighbourhood Safety Officers, and Selhurst Community Team.

Croydon Has Talent – The Winners

Wednesday 5th June 2019 

Hundreds headed to Thornton Heath to be wowed by a spectacular showcase last month – the borough’s first ever Croydon has Talent.

Open to young people aged eight- Twenty five from across the borough, the competition was organised by Croydon BME Forum with support from Croydon Council’s Choose Your Future campaign, celebrating young people’s positive choices.The audience at Oasis House, Peall Road, were treated to a fantastic night of live entertainment from solo performers and groups, with acts ranging from dance to DJ sets, from classical Indian music to rap.
On the judging panel were X-Factor 2018 finalist and Croydon resident Rae Elle Williams, Roger Samuels from The Voice 2019; DJ Milktray; Finesse Forever; and Leader of the Council, Councillor Tony Newman; cabinet member for children and young people, Councillor Alisa Flemming. 

The Mayor of Croydon also attended as a special guest.

The evening was hosted by Anthony King (Pass Da Mic) a popular comedian, MC, host and Croydon resident who is known in the community.
Anthony King was joined by a co- hosted on the night.
Inspiring Vanessa a 12 year old Croydon resident who is an international, award – winning motivational speaker, YouTuber, author and child presenter.

The winner in the U16s category was Amare Caleb Yawson a 10 year old Dancer with Karson Reynolds, 13 Singer, from New Addington as runner-up. In the over-16s category, Albert Amankwah Singer 25 scooped the top prize, followed by 2nd Place Jaykwarn Payne Stage Name Azulo 17 Dancer, 3rd Place D’sean Boswell Stage Name KS More Time 17 Rapper / MC.

Preparing for Black History Month 2019

Tuesday 4th June 2019 

As you know, Black History Month is fast approaching and if you would like your event/s to be promoted by the Croydon BME Forum and Croydon Council through their website (which will go live nearer the time) you will need to email the details
by Friday 16th August 2019 to: info@bmeforum.org

Information that would be required date/time a brief description of activity, location and target audience (age).
Please ensure to include whether the event will be a paid or free event.
If you have any pictures from previous Black History Month events or flyer associated with the event please do include.

Blowing the whistle on knife crime

Tuesday 28th May 2019

Over 1,000 people came together at Crystal Palace Football Club to take part in Cut It Out – a fun, football tournament that united the community against knife crime.
The challenge was won by young people from the Premier League Kicks flagship community football programme, who welcomed the chance to pitch their skills on the premier club’s turf.
Cut It Out championed the goals of the council’s Choose Your Future campaign – to unite Croydon against serious youth violence and support young people to make positive choices.
The BME Forum led event was supported by Croydon Council, Croydon Police the Palace for Life Foundation and community groups.

Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities, said: “Councillors were keen to add their support to this event as it took a clear stand against knife crime, and encouraged everyone attending to meet people they may not have met before.
Whether this was through football, competitions, workshops, or the wide range of support services and clubs that attended.”

The young people’s team pitched their skills against Croydon Police, with other teams including All Inclusive Football Team, Croydon All Stars, Croydon Councillors, Croydon Female All Stars, City Hall staff, the Fathers Forum, Lions Society, London Road Businesses, Neighbourhood Safety Officers, and Selhurst Community Team.

First Aid Training – for when seconds count!

Wednesday 22nd May 2019

Join Croydon BME Forum and Street Doctors for FREE first aid training aimed at 14 – 20 year olds.
Focusing on when seconds count and learning how to help if someone is bleeding or unconscious.

C.U.T it Out – Croydon Unites Together 2019

Tuesday 23rd May 2019

In the borough of Croydon, we are working in cohesion to collaborate our various skills across community sectors and are applying them to fight against an increasingly problematic epidemic – Knife crime. As a result, Croydon BME Forum, Croydon Council, Croydon Councillors, the Metropolitan police and local youth organisations have united to organise ‘Cut It Out’ – Croydon Unites together 2019 event.

The event will be taking place on Saturday 25th May 2019 at the world-famous Crystal Palace Football Stadium (Selhurst Park) from 10am – 4pm, where we will be hosting an 11-a-side football match. Also, to be expected on the day are a variety of workshops, performances, and information stalls hosted by organisations that offer support to young people within Croydon community.

Croydon Has Talent

Tuesday 16th April 2019

Calling all talented young people. (Ages 8-25)
From solo acts, group performances, magicians, dancers, novelty acts, gymnasts, singers, comedians.
We’re looking for anything and everything.
There is no act too big or too small. If you have a talent or a skill,we want want to see it.
Our doors are open to anyone between the ages of 8 – 25 years old.

Do not miss the opportunity to showcase your talent.

Two winners will be chosen on the night.
Category A: Under 16’s
Category B: 17 – 25 Year olds
Winners will receive a top prize of £500
Email: info@croydonhastalent.co.uk
Website: www.croydonhastalent.co.uk

Hate Crime

Thursday 4th April 2019
Hate crime not only harms its victims, it also harms their families and communities.

The government is committed to tackling hate crime. We want to raise awareness of what a hate crime is and help people understand that it is not right to target individuals based on their identity.

hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim, or anybody else, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone’s:
Race
Religion
Sexual orientation
Transgender identity
Disability

These aspects are known as ‘protected characteristics’.

A hate crime can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and damage to property.
A hate incident is behaviour which isn’t a crime but which is perceived by the victim, or anybody else, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on the 5 protected characteristics.

Report a hate crime

You can report a hate crime online or call 101 to speak to the police.
Call 999 if you’re reporting a crime that’s in progress or if someone is in immediate danger.

Croydon’s annual Black History Month Theme Launch 2019

Tuesday 19th March 2019

Croydon BME Forum and Croydon Council came together this week (MON 18/3) to launch the theme for Black History Month coming up in October. The launch was hosted at The Mayors parlour at Croydon Town Hall.
Guest speakers included the Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Tony Newman Leader of Croydon Council and Councillors from across the borough including Councillor Patsy Cummings BAME Champion for Croydon and Performances by young people showcasing their talents through spoken word, music and sketches.
The theme was an idea created by the Croydon’s Black History Month Steering group a collaboration of children, young people and older people of the Croydon community. Mayor of Croydon unveiled the theme to 100+ that was in attendance.
This year’s theme is #R.I.D the stigma. Representation, Identity and Diversity. Looking at the way in which people stigmatize over race.
The Black History Month Steering group wanted to emphasize on looking at who they are and how people perceive them.

Andrew Brown CEO Croydon BME Forum said “Stigma is something that effects all of us in some way.
The clothes you wear, the place you live, your race or gender. This year we hope to break down some of these barriers and we look forward to working with groups and partners in Croydon to deliver a wide range of activities to engage and encourage positivity in the community now and throughout Black History Month.

Croydon BME Forum is currently in our 6th year celebrating Black history month acknowledging those who have gone before us in history to make marvellous contributions to the world, as well as celebrating those who continue to do so in order to inspire a new generation of leaders.

Croydon BME Forum’s Annual General Meeting

Friday 25th January 2019

The annual general meeting of Croydon BME Forum was held on Thursday 24th January.
The presentation to the community consisted of as introduction of Members of Staff and Board of Trustees.
A long with all the hard work Croydon BME Forum is doing for the community such as…

The Croydon BME Forum welcomed Guest speakers.
-Cllr Patsy Cummings – Deputy Cabinet Member for finance & resources

-Fatima Koroma – Revivify Community Group
-Sandra Johnson – Still I Rise
-Tim Read/ Rob Goldsmith – Diabetes UK Croydon Branch

-Sharon Kilbourne – Community Coordinator, Counter Extremism
-Cllr Hamida Ali – Cabinet member for safer Croydon and Communities

Know my mind challenge mental health stereotypes.

Monday 03rd December 2018

A play about mental health by a former social worker will have a one-off performance in Croydon this weekend.

The performance of So U Think I’m Crazy?, written by Ekanem Hines and co-produced with  psychologist Rhian Tait, will take place at The FrontRoom in St Georges Walk and will include a Q&A panel with mental health professional practitioners. Its aim is to reach younger audiences through conversations around mental health. 

Hines, a retired social worker who lives in Croydon, wrote the play in 2013 after some persuasion from a friend. Since its 2014 debut, So U Think I’m Crazy? has been showcased around the UK at venues including The Albany and Ovalhouse.

She said the play uses the “versatility of song, dance, poetry and drama to convey the journey of a young African-Caribbean man’s physical and spiritual journey which leads to incarceration in a psychiatric ward”.

The show will feature actors and volunteers from the community theatre group, kNOw My Mind, which Hines co-founded in 2014. She said she used her 30 years of experience as a social worker to help the cast prepare for the show.

She added: “The play is about child sex abuse, bereavement, poverty, relationships, housing situations…it is titled ‘So You Think I’m Crazy?’ because it is questioning who you think is the crazy one. Not everyone wants to embrace those particular subjects. We are speaking on issues that are quite difficult to talk about and opening up a hub for people to talk.”

The play is funded by the Croydon BME Forum and Croydon Council.


Hines said the support of the council was fundamental to its success when the play opened on World Mental Health Day in October. She praised Councillor Janet Campbell, a new black councillor for Croydon, for showing her support for kNOw My Mind and the production.

Andrew Brown, who became CEO of Croydon BME Forum 13 months ago, said: “When I first saw the play, it really hit home. I think that it speaks about issues that are really close to me and what I care about. I want Croydon BME Forum to be a wellness hub where people can speak about mental health openly.”

The performance of So U Think I’m Crazy? will start at 5pm at The FrontRoom on St George’s Walk. Tickets can be purchased here: www.frontroom.space or they are £12 on the door.

Whitehorse Manor Junior School students showcase posters at Black
History Launch

Monday 9th October 2018

Students from Whitehorse Manor Junior School main site and Brigstock  site were invited to participate at the launch of the Black History
Month on Tuesday 2nd October 2018 at the Speroni’s Restaurant,  Selhurst Park Stadium Whitehorse Lane.

They were invited by Music Relief Foundation a youth organisation to design posters to be displayed on the night with this  year’s theme
“HEROES TO HERITAGE”.
Headteachers on both site’s Nina Achenbach and Nicola Hall did a  splendid job of coordinating the students in producing lovely arrays  of posters celebrating black heroes both past and present.

The children were very delighted to be invited to the event, and on the night they were called upon by Magdalene Adenaike CEO of Music  Relief Foundation to receive their certificates of participation from  Madam Mayor Bernadette Khan

The Black History launch was coordinated by the Croydon BME Forum and  the event was hosted by their CEO Andrew Brown, who was very pleased  
with the quality and talents displayed by the children with their  posters.

The night was filled with inspiring and wonderful talks by Tony Newman  Leader of the council, Jo Negrini CEO Croydon Council, Jeff Boothe  Chief Superintendent Croydon Metropolitan Police, Althea Efunshile  CBE, Soye Briggs Director of Development Crystal Palace, William  Awomoyi Croydon Young Mayor, and councilors Patsy Cummings and Janet  Campbell.

There are several events taking place right through the month and  further information can be found on the Croydon BME Forum website.

Countdown to Croydon’s Black History Month 2018

Monday 17th September 2018

Every year in October, Croydon joins the rest of the UK in celebrating black history month.Croydon BME Forum are working with Croydon Council and PALACE FOR LIFE FOUNDATION to create the marquee event to celebrate Black History Month in Croydon.

The theme of this year’s Black History Month is “HEROES TO HERITAGE”.

This is our 5th year celebrating Black history month acknowledging those who have gone before us in history to make marvellous contributions to the world, as well as celebrating those who continue to do so in order to inspire a new generation of leaders.

  • 2017 – Celebrating Communities – a tribute to Black Institutions
  • 2016 – Young Achievers
  • 2015 – Women in Leadership
  • 2014 – History for Tomorrow

This year we wanted to mix it up, make it a little different by having an inter-generational group come together to identify the theme, locate speakers and suggest creative ideas for launch.
The events programme for black history month includes workshops, exhibitions, talks, conferences, performances, matches film screenings and more across the borough.
Croydon’s events compliment a wider programme of activities nationally.

Croydon’s young people choose positive futures

Monday 23rd July 2018

Over 200 young people attended Croydon Youth Summit on Saturday 21st July 2018 to share their views on knife crime. 

The speakers included Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, who praised Croydon for its partnership work in tackling youth violence, which he held up Met wide as ‘good practice’.
The 11-24year-olds put their questions and concerns to him, and to a wide range of senior borough representatives, including, Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, Croydon Council Leader, Tony Newman and MPs Sarah Jones and Steve Reed.

Gwenton Sloley from Crying Sons (an organisation set up to support boys and men caught up in gangs and serious violence) was also there to offer support, along with, Councillor Hamida Ali, Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon and Communities. Councillor, Alisa Flemming, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Learning and William Awomoyi – Croydon Youth Mayor.

The free event, at BRIT School, was organised by Croydon BME Forum, with support from Croydon Council, 20 young people and community organisations and a network of professional services who support young people. 

Councillor Hamida Ali, Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon and Communities, said: “Working together with Croydon BME Forum, CVA and the many other voluntary groups who are supporting young people in Croydon is making a difference.”

The summit was also an opportunity to raise awareness of the council’s Choose Your Future campaign, which aims to unite Croydon against serious youth violence, and encourage young people to make positive choices.

Croydon BME Forum CEO, Andrew Brown, said: “Why young people get involved in violent crime is complex, and the Youth Summit gave them the chance to come together and express their concerns, which included peer pressure and poor parenting.

“Follow ups will include working with the Youth Mayor and other young people to engage with harder to reach young people.There are also plans for another summit during term time, which will include parents.” The summit was funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), as part of a £50,000 grant that the BME Forum secured to support 11-24 year olds away from knife crime and serious youth violence.”

Some of the key discussion points to emerge from the Summit included:

* The complexities associated with why people get involved in violent crime could not be put down to a single factor or reason. It is likely to be a combination of factors. However, reasons given ranged from peer pressure to poor parenting to over zealousness of some police officers using ‘stop and search’ in a heavy-handed way to poverty and cuts in police services.

* There was a particular concern that the image of violent youth crime was somehow particular to the black community, specifically, black boys.

* Some people felt that ‘snitching culture encouraged by the police’ will not work because there may not be the support for those informants. Police were keen to express the need for greater community support in solving crimes.

* Addiction theory was thought to be an area of exploration as this offers an explanation linked to medical conditioning in the same way one can become addicted to drugs; that is, violence begat violence until it becomes a ’craving’.

* The absence of maternal and paternal influenced was said to be another factor leading to negative outlook and outcomes for some (i.e. a mental health perspective).

* The high level of exclusion, ‘leaving many to wonder the streets looking for something to do’ was yet another reason put forward.

Supporting Our Windrush Generation – Our Rights in the UK

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Those arriving in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries have been labelled the Windrush generation. It is unclear how many people belong to the Windrush generation, since many of those who arrived as children travelled on parents’ passports and never applied for travel documents – but they are thought to be in their thousands.

There are now 500,000 people resident in the UK who were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived before 1971 – including the Windrush arrivals – according to estimates by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory.

Since implementation of the 1971 Immigration Act, Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain. After this, a British passport-holder born overseas could only settle in the UK if they firstly had a work permit and, secondly, could prove that a parent or grandparent had been born in the UK. The Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain or issue any paperwork confirming it – meaning it is difficult for Windrush arrivals to prove they are in the UK legally.

Many who came from British colonies that had not achieved independence, believed they were British citizens however, now many who lack documents are now being told they need evidence to continue working, get treatment from the NHS – or even to remain in the UK. Changes to immigration law in 2012, which require people to have documentation to work, rent a property or access benefits, including healthcare, have left people fearful about their status

Croydon Council therefore invites Commonwealth British Citizens to an information and advice event supporting Croydon residents and their families affected by the Windrush issues.

Speakers will include representatives from:

Home Office • Elected Representatives • Immigration Specialists

Knife Crime: £50,000 Grant given to Croydon group to stamp out Problem

Tuesday 27th March 2018

For Andrew Brown, stamping out knife crime has always been a priority.
So when the interim CEO at Croydon BME Forum found out his group had been awarded a £50,000 grant to do just that, he knew he had to make it count.
“People might see an article every week about someone being stabbed, but the issue goes much deeper than that,” Mr Brown said.
“Croydon has been really badly affected over the last two years and now with this money, we’re hoping to bring about a real change.”

An ‘umbrella’ group, BME plans to spread the money across five Croydon-based organisations, each with its own plan of tackling the growing knife problem.

 But as the 45-year-old says, the hardest part about running a volunteer group is simply staying open.
“In the voluntary sector a lot are doing good work,” Mr Brown said.

“But they don’t last because they don’t have the money.
“What we will be doing is to make sure they are sustainable over another 12 months.”The funding comes as part of an anti-knife initiative by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan that will see a total of £1.4 million given out to groups across the capital.

“Prevention is the most effective tool we have,” Mr Khan said
“With the funds announced today, these community and grass-roots projects will be able to help root out violence within our communities and give more young Londoners the skills, support and aspirations they need to turn away from crime and fulfil their potential.”

BME plans to work hand in hand with the chosen groups (Music Relief, ANOS, Lions Society, Alliance Society and one still to be chosen) to combine their knowledge of the area.
“Everyone is doing really good work, but it isn’t coordinated at times,” Mr Brown said.”I could be working with one man, but three other organisations could be working with the same young man.

 

This is how £50,000 is going to be spent in Croydon to tackle Knife Crime.

Sunday 25th March 2018

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has given tens of thousands of pounds to Croydon organisations to tackle knife crime in the borough.
Croydon BME Forum, Lions society, Another Night of Sisterhood (ANOS) and Music Relief have all been chosen to benefit from the mayor’s £1.4 million anti-knife crime fund.
Croydon BME Forum has been given £49,736 to deliver training and support to organisations. The money will be spent on helping young people aged from eight to 25 who are at risk of being recruited into gangs and offending as well as supporting their parents.
Andrew Brown, interim CEO of Croydon BME Forum, said: “The funding will help us deliver capacity building training and support to five grassroots organisations who provide activities for people affected by knife crime in Croydon, reaching at least 60 people over a 12-month period.”

 

Croydon BME Forum – £49,736 to deliver training and support to five grassroots organisations who provide activities for people affected by knife crime in Croydon, reaching at least 60 people.
He added: “The second part of the programme will support five groups to continue with the good work they are doing in tackling the underlying issues surrounding knife crime.
“The groups will deliver a programme of activities to parents and young people aged eight to 25 [who are] at risk of offending, being recruited into gangs, at risk of becoming, or not in education, employment or training (NEET).
“And for parents who feel excluded from their children’s lives.”

Within the workshops offered Mr Brown says there will be music therapy, community empowerment, employment and awareness of social media.
A mentoring system, where groups go into five schools in the borough, will also be able to happen, as well as 1,000 hours of outreach support in the north of Croydon.

He added: “The problem is that the small groups are doing wonderful work, but they are not getting the money in, and they have to pay bills.”

MP for Croydon Central, Sarah Jones, who was involved in lobbying the Mayor’s office to secure the funding, hopes it will make a difference.She said: “There’s obviously still a lot of priority to be given to knife crime by the government, but I think it’s a really good model.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “As Mayor, I’m doing everything possible in London not only to be tough on knife crime, but tough on the causes of knife crime too.
“City Hall has stepped up where the government is letting our young people down.
“We are providing unprecedented additional funds to the Met Police, driving forward a full and comprehensive knife crime strategy and our new young Londoners fund will help many young people to thrive, prosper and make the right choices to avoid being sucked into a life of crime.
“Prevention is the most effective tool we have.
“These community and grass-roots projects will be able to help root out violence within our communities and give more young Londoners the skills, support and aspirations they need to turn away from crime and fulfil their potential.”

 

Croydon BME Forum has been successfully chosen as one of the First anti-knife crime projects to benefit from new £1.4m fund

Friday 23rd March 2018

Nine community and grassroots anti-knife initiatives across London have received a share of £250,000 from City Hall as part of the Mayor’s comprehensive strategy to tackle violence and knife crime across the capital, with a further £1.15m to be awarded later this spring.

The successful groups work with young people to help prevent and protect them from knife crime. They include a boxing club in Brixton, music training in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, and support workshops and activities in Croydon, Southwark, and Lambeth.

The funding is part of Sadiq Khan’s comprehensive Knife Crime Strategy published in June 2017, which included a £250,000 Knife Crime Community Seed Fund. Since then, Sadiq has provided an additional £1.15m for these projects through his new Young Londoners Fund, taking the total to £1.4m.

The first nine projects to benefit are:

Croydon BME Forum – £49,736 to deliver training and support to five grassroots organisations who provide activities for people affected by knife crime in Croydon, reaching at least 60 people

Somali Relief and Islamic cultural centre – £6,337 to deliver five community consultation events for 100 Somali parents and young people in Southwark to raise awareness of knife crime

Hammersmith and Fulham Anti-Tribalism Movement – £31,173 for the Anti-Tribalism Movement to work in partnership with Council of Somali Organisations, delivering the ‘Quit Knives Saves Lives Desistance Programme’. This programme is a much-needed programme to tackle the spike in anti-social behaviour affecting young Somali men living in London.

Mancunian Way – £8,650 to deliver an outreach project from a community centre reaching around 100 young estate residents engaged in or at risk of knife crime in Hackney

Dwaynamics CIC – £49,780 to provide boxing and health activities to 192 young people in Lambeth and run a series of knife crime workshops

The Flavasum Trust – £14,016 to deliver awareness-raising workshops to 4,000 pupils in 20 London schools in areas worst affected by knife crime, including Newham, Lambeth and Tower Hamlets.

Raw Material Music and Media Education – £34,498 to support 50 young people in Brixton who are offenders, or are at risk of offending, to engage in creative activities and training and employment workshops over 40 weeks

WISE Youth Trust – £20,000 to deliver workshops, music production and digital media skills courses for 150 young people in Hackney and Tower Hamlets

ML Community Enterprise – £32,664 to deliver a therapeutic support project for 24 young male and female victims of crime and violence in Lambeth

During the development of the Mayor’s Strategy and his new anti-knife crime campaign, ‘London Needs You Alive’, many of the young people consulted said they want to be engaged with by people from their communities who they know and trust, and who have experienced some of the same issues and challenges around knife crime.

With that in mind, the community funding has been boosted to £1.4m by the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund, created by Sadiq to support education, sport and cultural activities for young people to help tackle knife crime and youth violence, which has been rising across the country since 2014. In contrast to this investment by the Mayor, central government continues to cut vital services including £22m from London’s youth services since 2011, which has resulted in the closure of some 30 youth centres that had served at least 12,700 young Londoners*.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “As Mayor, I’m doing everything possible in London not only to be tough on knife crime, but tough on the causes of knife crime too.

“City Hall has stepped up where the government is letting our young people down. We are providing unprecedented additional funds to the Met police, driving forward a full and comprehensive Knife Crime Strategy and our new Young Londoners Fund will help many young people to thrive, prosper and make the right choices to avoid being sucked into a life of crime.

“Prevention is the most effective tool we have, and with the funds announced today, these community and grass-roots projects will be able to help root out violence within our communities and give more young Londoners the skills, support and aspirations they need to turn away from crime and fulfil their potential.”

Pastor Lorraine Jones, Dwaynamics, said: “We are thrilled and extremely excited to have been granted funding from the Mayor’s Community Seed Fund. This funding will go directly towards our new Errol Christie Awards initiative which will tackle the issues surrounding knife crime through a number of workshops, supported by sports programmes through boxing from which Dwaynamics was founded. This work will ensure that our at-risk youth have the support, love, and attention they need to go on to be the champions we know they are whether it be in their professional or personal lives. The Errol Christie awards will be the defining factor when a young man or woman makes their most important life decisions. This will keep them dedicated and focussed, steering them away from the growing gang culture we have seen in Lambeth. The legacy of my son Dwayne Simpson lives on”

The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) will work with the successful bidders to provide mentoring and support, and to assist in building relationships with Safer Neighbourhood Boards. The Knife Crime Community Seed Fund is being managed by London Community Foundation.

Rosie Tharp, London Community Foundation, said: “We are delighted that MOPAC has committed funding to support the voluntary and community sector to respond to knife crime. These small charities and organisations face many challenges and are often run by volunteers and goodwill. It is positive that MOPAC recognises that community organisations are well-placed to tackle knife crime and has made funding available to support a range of services and interventions in priority areas across London.”

Later this week, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime will bring together representatives from the Met Police, local authorities, the NHS and London’s communities in a public Policing Matters meeting at City Hall, as work continues to drive forward the Mayor’s public health approach to tackle knife crime in the capital.

Home Office uses real-life cases in #knifefree ad campaign

Friday 23rd March 2018

An advertising campaign to reduce knife crime among young people featuring real cases has been launched in England and Wales amid warnings of a stabbing epidemic in London.

The £1.35m Home Office campaign will target 10- to 21-year-olds on social media and digital TV channels. A poster campaign will be displayed in English cities where knife crime is prevalent.

The #knifefree adverts focus on real stories of young people who decided not to carry a knife in an effort to inspire others to pursue positive alternatives, the department said.

The campaign forms part of the government’s forthcoming serious violence strategy, and comes as the number of fatal shootings and stabbings since January in London .

Patrick Green, the chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust which is named after the 16-year-old London boy stabbed in 2008, said: “It is vitally important that we help young people understand the dangers associated with carrying a knife. A knife won’t protect you, it doesn’t give you status; harming or stabbing someone isn’t a trivial act.

“We need to do more to help young people understand that carrying a knife doesn’t solve anything, in fact all it does is increase the likelihood that you will be imprisoned, seriously injured or murdered.

“Introducing young people to the life stories of others who have faced the same challenges but have chosen to live knife-free is a powerful way to help them make more positive choices.”

The ads, which will run for six weeks, are based on research which found that real-life stories of young people talking about their experiences with knives resonated with the target audience.

They point young people to a dedicated website which provides advice, information on support services and activities aimed at empowering them to change their behaviour.

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, said: “The emotional stories at the heart of the new Knife Free campaign bring home in powerful fashion just what a far-reaching impact it can have on a young person’s life if they make the misguided decision to carry a knife.

“I hope any young person who is seriously thinking about carrying a knife listens to what the implications can be and realises what options are available if they choose to live knife-free.”

The government has consulted on new laws on offensive and dangerous weapons, including banning online stores from delivering knives to residential addresses and making it an offence to possess certain weapons in private.

Social isolation and BME older people in Croydon

Tuesday 20th March 2018

Croydon BME Forum held an event to discuss the key issues around social isolation and BME older people in Croydon. The issue (and possible solutions) were summarised in a report that the Community Development Worker for older adult had produced as a result of the engagement with local health/social care professionals and older people.

Cllrs Louisa Woodley (Cabinet Member for Families, Health and Social Care) and her Deputy (Cllr Patsy Cummings) joined eighty-two participants, including social workers, voluntary sector staff and older people themselves. Police officers, a representative from Transport for London and a senior therapist from Croydon Psychological Therapies and Wellbeing Service answered questions from the audience.

The report will be finalised and circulated by Thursday 5th April 2018. For any queries, or if you are interested in receiving a copy, please contact Anna DAgostino, Community Development Worker (older adults) at anna@bmeforum.org or call 020 8684 3719

Croydon’s Young Mayor announced!

Thursday 15th March 2018

Croydon’s young people have elected William Awomoyi to be the borough’s first ever Young Mayor and a new voice for London’s largest youth population.

William, 14, a pupil at The Cedars School, was tonight (15 March) revealed as the winner of first Croydon’s Young Mayor Election. Shea Williams, 15, who attends Harris Academy South Norwood, will serve as Deputy Young Mayor after winning the second highest number of votes.

Together they will represent Croydon’s 93,500 under-18s – that’s 1 in 20 young Londoners – and play a key role in local decision-making, ensuring that young people’s views are heard on the issues that matter to them.

William campaigned on his manifesto, and his main aims were preventing youth crime and safety. His campaign video can be seen here. Shea’s top manifesto aims were out of school careers and workshops. Her campaign video can be seen here. Both their manifestos are available in full at www.croydon.gov.uk/youngmayor.

Both were elected following an exciting three-week campaign in which 28 candidates aged 11-17 from across the borough battled it out for the top job. Highlights included Young Mayor boot camp; a Speaker’s Corner-style debate in the town centre and a public question time where candidates were quizzed on a huge range of local issues.

More than 12,000 young people aged 11-18 headed to the ballot boxes in schools, colleges and community centres on polling day – a new local record for youth democracy.

After the results were announced tonight William said: “When they said my name I was flabbergasted. I did not expect to attain victory in this way! I’ve been out campaigning every day, on public transport, in the streets, at schools. I want to thank my family, my friends and everyone who supported me and voted for me. Croydon is a great place and I have a passion for making it better for everyone. A modernised Croydon, a safer Croydon, a peaceful Croydon.”

Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council

“Huge congratulations to William Croydon’s first ever Young Mayor and Deputy Young Mayor Shea. I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to Croydon Council. You will be a strong voice for young people across our borough and we want you, as their representatives, to play a key role in local decision-making.”

Cllr Alisa Flemming cabinet member for children, young people and learning, added

“Congratulations to William and Shea. I am really looking forward to working with you both to raise the profile of Croydon’s young people.

“I also want to congratulate all of the candidates on an excellent campaign. You have all, without exception, inspired me with your energy, enthusiasm and willingness to stand up and raise your voices for what you believe in.

“Most importantly, you have inspired other young people across the borough, to stand up for what they believe in. More than 12,000 of them voted on Tuesday and this amazing turnout is testament to all your hard work. Don’t stop – you still have much to offer and we want to continue hearing your voices through our youth councils. This is absolutely not the end – it is very much the beginning.”

The Young Mayor election is the latest initiative in Croydon’s Choose Your Future campaign, through which the council, its partners and the community are empowering young people to make positive life choices.

Croydon’s Young Mayor will be formally introduced to the council’s cabinet at their next meeting on Monday 19 March.

Voter ID trials ‘risk disenfranchising vulnerable people’

Tuesday, 6th March 2018

A group of more than 40 charities, campaign groups and academics have written to the government to warn that plans to trial compulsory voter ID at the local elections in May risk disenfranchising large numbers of vulnerable people.

The letter to Chloe Smith, the constitution minister, says the pilot scheme is a disproportionate response to the scale of electoral fraud, noting that in 2016 there were just 44 allegations of voter impersonation, the issue that compulsory ID is intended to combat.

It said Electoral Commission figures indicated that 3.5 million people in Britain – 7.5% of the electorate – do not have access to any form of photo ID.

The letter was organised by the Electoral Reform Society and is signed by the heads of organisations including Age UK, the RNIB, the Salvation Army, the British Youth Council, Stonewall, Operation Black Vote, Liberty, the National Union of Students and St Mungo’s.

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It says the trial, which will require voters in five local authorities to show ID before they can vote on 3 May, could “present a significant barrier to democratic engagement and risk compromising a basic human right for some of the most marginalised groups in society”.

The letter says research has shown that the voters least likely to possess the necessary ID include young or older people, those with disabilities, BAME communities, homeless people and transgender and gender non-conforming people.

It argues that although the councils taking part in the pilots will provide other options for those without photo ID, “the measures do not go far enough to alleviate the potential risk of disenfranchisement and deterrent to voting”.

It also expresses concern about low levels of public awareness about the pilots and the issues they might cause, despite the local elections being just two months away.

Croydon commits £250k to support borough youth

Wednesday, 28th February 2018

 Youth projects and community groups that work to help young people make positive choices are to benefit from a boost of a quarter of a million pounds.

The funding was announced by councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning, at Monday’s cabinet meeting.

The money will be used in a range of ways – to support early-stage funding for groups that wish to start initiatives to support young people, to match-fund plans already in place and to help existing groups reach more youngsters borough wide by investing in their outreach programmes.

 

Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning

“The cash supports the message of the council’s Choose Your Future campaign, which aims to encourage young people to make positive choices, and to
raise young people’s awareness of knife crime.

“This money will boost the amount of work we do to support young people, from helping new youth groups and support services set up, to adding further backing to the borough’s existing youth and outreach groups.

“We will back our youth and community groups and grass-roots level, to ensure we are working within all sectors of our diverse community.”

The youth work will be funded by the 2018/2019 budget.

Mayor sets up £45m fund to help young Londoners

Tuesday, 13th February 2018

Young Londoners at risk of getting caught up in crime will be supported by a new £45 million fund created by Mayor Sadiq Khan to counter government cuts and “end the scandal of young talent going to waste”.

Young Londoners at risk of getting caught up in crime will be supported by a new £45 million fund created by Mayor Sadiq Khan to counter government cuts and “end the scandal of young talent going to waste”.

The Young Londoners Fund will invest in vital services to help vulnerable children and young adults develop, particularly those who have been left behind or marginalised, and work to prevent them being sucked into crime.

In London, Government cuts over the last eight years have forced councils to slash more than £22m from youth services, with 30 youth centres closed and at least 12,700 places for young people lost.

“It is shameful that because of this Government’s cuts, youth services across the capital have been decimated,” Sadiq said.

“I know from personal experience that for many young people, particularly those from deprived and disadvantaged communities, activities and services for young people offer support at crucial times, have a really positive impact and help keep them on the straight and narrow,” the Mayor said.

The three-year fund will see £10m a year made available for local communities, charities and schools to bid for. The remaining £5m a year will be invested to scale up existing projects funded by City Hall that support young Londoners.

Sadiq announced the Young Londoners Fund while visiting the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey, which supports young people to fulfil their potential and contribute positively to their communities.

“Salmon has been reaching out to young people in inner city London for over a hundred years,” Sam Adofo, Director at the Salmon Youth Centre, said.

“We very much welcome The Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund as it means youth centres like ours will be able to continue the work we do and impact many more young lives.”

The funding comes in addition to the £7m investment the Mayor has already made into knife and gang crime projects in 2017-18.

To read more click here

‘Mott MacDonald Volunteers gave us a 60 min Makeover!’

Friday, 9 February 2018

Down at the BME Forum the doors are always open to the local community and earlier this week,

We welcomed a group of 8 volunteers from Mott MacDonald courtesy of Croydon Commitment in to help re-paint one of our main rooms in the building. As soon as the group began painting, the change was almost instant! They laughed, shared jokes ate ice cream and worked very hard to get the room completed within just 2 hours and 30 mins.

Painting companies should most definitely fear the competition nearby, because we will certainly be welcoming them back to work with us in the future. Not to mention the cheeky enquiries about whether they offer this service for houses too! See some of the pictures and videos below of the fun we got up to.

Croydon BME Forum would also like to give a massive thanks to B&Q for our paint donation, and an even larger thank you to the team from Mott MacDonald for offering their services and Croydon Commitment for aligning us. Both organisations are conducting great works and we encourage everybody to check them out and come together to get involved in any way possible.

After

Before
        

TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More!

THE REAL CRIME IS A LOST GENERATION

Jan 24, 2018

School boy Jermaine Goupall was just minutes from his home when he was stabbed in the thigh  – bleeding out on the pavement – as he tried to flee masked knife wielding teenagers.

A court has been hearing how it was the climax of a feud between the CR7 and CR0 gang over music videos on You Tube.

Kyall, 17, was stabbed once through the heart and died on the street on New Year’s Eve  in Tulse Hill after a row with fellow teenagers. Police say Kyall had a knife and was witnessed acting ‘very aggressively’ before his death.

Detectives told Southwark coroners court  that during the confrontation with his killer, Kyall’s friends told him to “stab him, finish him off”, which the younger boy claimed caused him to take out his own knife from his bag and stab Kyall in an attempt to protect himself.

Derryck John is featured in a missing poster last summer and a week later commits an appalling series of acid attacks that shocks the nation leaving one victim with life changing injuries. He committed the crimes with an unknown assailant and now faces a considerable prison sentence. In a statement, John said he was frightened of the other man involved, who is much older than him.

What links all these boys is their ages, ethnicity and home address – Thornton Heath – and how momentary ill-conceived acts end lives,  futures and devastate families.

The victims and perpetrators are often the same individuals and music, peer pressure, and social media are contributing to young people making poor choices.

Preferring to live for now rather than the future,  money and respect is valued over aspiration for some of our young.

Last week Magdalene Adenaike of Music Relief chaired a Youth Initiative meeting attended by youth groups, parents and residents in Thornton Heath which called for a community youth champion, to act as go-between raising the concerns of the community with the council.

Croydon had one of the highest levels of youth violence in London over the past year.

It can’t be a coincidence that the council’s children’s services and the Croydon Safeguarding Children Board (CSCB), which tackles issues such as gang and knife crime, were rated “inadequate” by inspectors.

Youth services  and the police have also faced huge cuts with  fewer officers struggling to tackle soaring knife crime.

At the meeting concerns  were raised about how some young people choose to follow others with a “sheep mentality”, for fear of looking stupid.

This led to calls for initiatives to help the young make better decisions by being able to signpost them and their families to organisations that will enable them to channel their energies positively.

It also highlighted the need for parents to take a role in ensuring they knew the whereabouts of their children.

An in-depth conversation about knife crime focussed on the impact on teenagers, especially when the victim is known to them.

Joan Idris, from Off The Record which offers free counselling and on-line support to young people said: “More and more young people are dealing with the devastating affects of losing someone they know to violence and often they are not signposted to seek emotional support for bereavement or the anxiety they are experiencing.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced an extra £15 million to tackle the knife crime epidemic and if any additional income raised from council tax can be invested in youth services.

Clearly this is a complex issue and won’t have a simple overnight solution. It  isn’t just about statutory organisations – it’s about parents, schools and the community working together to ensure that the next generation has the confidence to be different and value life more.

If you are dealing with the loss of a close friend, get in touch with Off The Record for confidential support

www.talkofftherecord.org

Last year 16-year-old Derryck John carried out six acid attacks in 90 minutes in order to steal mopeds.

Five young people are in court accused of the murder of 15-year-old Jermaine Goupall on Georgia Road.

The 16-year-old boy who killed Kyall Parnell, may not be charged with his murder because he “acted in self-defence”.

‘It feels so close to home’: spate of stabbings unnerves London teenagers

January 18th 2018

One at a time, the children in the room stand up and perform in front of their peers and relatives – a song from Disney’s Frozen, a monologue from a play, a joke worthy of a Christmas cracker – while audience members observe a respectful quiet.

Along with a passion for performing arts, the youngsters assembled for the talent show at Croydon’s BME Forum have something else in common: in one way or another their lives have been touched by knife crime.

This isn’t the reason they have been brought together – the event has been organised by the youth group Music Relief Foundation (MRF), which is about using creativity to unleash young people’s potential. It is an unfortunate reality that if you’re a teenager in London, you or someone you know will have a story to tell about knife violence.

As well as stories of stabbings, the children all have strong views on how the problem – branded an epidemic by some – could be tackled.

After singing a touching rendition of Killing Me Softly, Nia Shaw, 18, tells the Guardian she knows the prime suspect in the killing of Kyall Parnell, a 17-year-old stabbed in Tulse Hill on New Year’s Eve. The 16-year-old boy, who has been arrested, lives two minutes from her home. “It happens all the time but you never expect it when it’s someone you know,” she says. “I didn’t think of him as someone who would carry a knife or any weapon. It now just feels so close to home.”

Parnell was one of four young people stabbed to death in the space of 15 hours over the new year period. The spate of unconnected stabbings across London brought the issue of knife crime back into focus once again. The story is fast becoming stuck on repeat.

Nia, who lives in Tulse Hill and attends Richmond-upon-Thames college, says she feels unnerved by the recent violence. “I feel like these stabbings didn’t really even have a target, they’re just innocent people getting caught up in them.”

“I think poverty is a factor,” she adds. She thinks punishment for knife crimes could be more severe. “It keeps on happening. The thought of punishment should stop you from making that mistake.”

She and many of her friends at MRF advocate youth clubs as a resource to help young people make better use of their time. But Nia says these clubs cannot just be a room in a community centre with the door left open for teenagers to come and go. “The club needs to be more than a space or a room,” she says. “It needs to have actual facilities and provide activities for young people to do.”

Javan Roberts, 15, attends the famous Brit School in Croydon, whose alumni include Adele and Amy Winehouse. At his previous school, Javan knew Jermaine Goupall, who died aged 15 after he was stabbed in the leg in in Thornton Heath last year. Javan learned of his former friend’s death through social media.

“It was so instant and unexpected,” he says. “I just clicked on Snapchat and I hear someone I knew had died. I heard about it and wrote a song.” And the message? “Its chorus went: ‘Cold blood, the brothers have no love.’”

Javan says he sees and hears about knife violence on an almost daily basis. “It’s repeated a lot,” he said. “You hear of boys trying to prove themselves, sometimes they’re trying to protect themselves.” But he is not intimidated. “I don’t feel scared. Some people are quite silly in the way they present themselves. I don’t need to act like a badman or a roadman because that’s not who I am.”

Kai Henderson, 13, was friends with Michael Jonas, a 17-year-old stabbed in Betts Park, Anerley, in south London last year. “He was stabbed a week after I last saw him,” he says. “That made me feel scared – if I went to that park it could be me. I’m still kind of scared of going back.”

Kai, who attends Orchard Park High in Croydon, has known of boys kicked out of school for carrying weapons but he does not believe that to be the answer. “That’s not right,” he says. “They’re taken out of school and put in places with other bad kids, where all the bad kids go. They should stay in school and should be given access to counsellors with support to help them out.”

Angel Lowe, 12, gives a spirited performance of a monologue from a play she has been studying at Gordon’s school, a state-run, voluntary-aided boarding school in Surrey. Angel boards there Monday to Friday before returning home to South Norwood at weekends. “When I’m at school I’m away from knife crime,” she says. “But when I’m home I’m reminded of it often.”

Angel says her stepsister’s cousin was stabbed 14 times in Peckham. “He was so lucky he didn’t die.” . She says many perpetrators of knife violence are part of an ignored part of society. “Maybe if someone was there just to listen to them and their views, they would be different. So many people feel like they’re not heard.” She also thinks the police who work in the communities to reduce knife crime need to be less confrontational.

Joshua Jean-Pierre, 13, who attends Harris Academy South Norwood, had a near-miss with a stabbing. “We had finished school, we were going to get a McDonald’s. My friend saw this boy who had tried to rob him before. He came over to us and he was about to get something out of his bag – we knew it was going to be a knife.”

A passing member of the public intervened and defused the situation, but it left him shaken. Perhaps he could turn to the police? “The police have come into our schools and searched our bags. It doesn’t make me feel safe. Children worry that the police will plant something in our bag and we’ll be arrested. There isn’t any trust.” And what about the government? “The government does nothing to tackle knife crime,” Joshua says. “They spend all their time and money on Brexit and not anywhere near enough on youth.”

Magdalene Adenaike, 37, set up Music Relief Foundation, originally for young mums, after she had her first child when she was 18. It evolved into a youth organisation with a goal of reaching out through music. “Young people are able to express themselves through music,” she says. “It’s a powerful and positive way of getting strong messages across.” MRF has a knife crime awareness campaign, More than Able, and last week representatives attended parliament with the Croydon MP Sarah Jones.

Among the audience at the MRF talent show are proud parents of the children taking part. Kai’s playful grandmother can’t resist joining in and steps up to the front to recite Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise. The children are captivated.

It’s a warm and magical moment in which the sense of the community in the room – and, particularly after the conversations that have taken place, its underlying fragility – is laid bare.

Young people ‘being let down’ as Croydon more than quarters its youth service spending

January 25 2018

The number of youth workers in Croydon – the borough with the largest child population in London – has fallen by 69% in four years.

A freedom of information request revealed that in an area with about 40,000  residents aged 11-18,  full time jobs in youth work plunged from 61 in 2013-14, to just 19 in 2017-2018.In addition to this, the total amount spent on youth services in the borough dropped from more than £3.8million in 2013-14, to £794,000 in 2017-18. According to the council, spending figures between 2013 and 2016 are incomparable to those given for 2016/17 due to ‘multiple restructures and changes to service provision’.

Magdalene Adenaike, founder of Music Relief, a youth organisation in Croydon, said: “It’s very disturbing to see the figures.

Individuals and organisations with great intentions to support the youths are unfortunately being forced to seek alternative employment due to lack of funds.

“The young people are left without the support they desperately need and the consequences as we now see are very dire.

“We need financial support to help us continue the great work we do with the youths.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has repeatedly called on the Government to reverse cuts to youth services to help tackle the recent rise in knife crime across the city – and Croydon has one of the highest rates of knife crime in London.

Two of last year’s most high profile cases involved 17-year-old Aren Mali, killed in Croydon town centre’s main shopping street, and 16-year-old Jermaine Goupall murdered in Thornton Heath.

Mr Khan tweeted on January 4: “Government cuts to youth services, education, probation & the police are letting young Londoners down. They need to urgently prioritise these services if we are to tackle crime across our city.”

 

Government cuts to youth services, education, probation & the police are letting young Londoners down. They need to urgently prioritise these services if we are to tackle crime across our city. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/sadiq-khan-crime-weak-causes-violence-london-met-police-theresa-may-home-office-stabbings-murders-a8141436.html 

Sadiq Khan accuses Government of being ‘weak on causes of crime’ amid rising violence

Sadiq Khan has attacked the Government over being “weak on the causes of crime” and suggested that cuts could be driving rising violence. Speaking after four young men were murdered in unrelated…

independent.co.uk

 
 

A Croydon Council spokesperson said wider government budget cuts were to blame for the figures showing a drop in youth services spending.

He highlighted a new youth engagement strategy implemented last year. “We have since shaped our delivery to reflect the needs of communities across the borough and increased our face to face sessions with young people,” he said.
“You will see from your campaigns there is a strong focus on giving young people a real voice in local decision-making.”

In a cabinet meeting on October 18 last year, Croydon Council set out its strategy for ‘championing children in Croydon’, which they estimated would cost £10,000.
As part of the strategy, a Young Mayor of Croydon will be elected this spring by 11-18 year-olds who live in the borough.

The Young Major will serve a fixed term and work with other young people to manage a budget that will benefit local voluntary sector groups.

How Scotland reduced knife deaths among young people

Sun 3 Dec 2017
In 2005, Strathclyde police set up a violence reduction unit (VRU) in an effort
to address a problem that had made Glasgow, in particular, notorious. Later
that year, a United Nations report illustrated why that strategy was so urgent.

The study concluded that Scotland was the most violent country in the
developed world. Based on telephone interviews with crime victims conducted
between 1991 and 2000, it found that excluding murder, Scots were almost
three times as likely to be assaulted as Americans and 30 times more likely
than the Japanese.
The VRU, which is directly funded by the Scottish government and has an
arms-length relationship with Police Scotland, was later rolled out across
Scotland. It has adopted a public health approach to knife crime, in which the
police work with those in the health, education and social work sectors to
address the problem. The results so far have been dramatic.
Of the 35 children and teenagers who have been killed with knives in Britain
so far this year, not one has been in Scotland. By contrast, in England and
Wales, 2017 looks set to become the worst year for deaths of young people by
knives in nearly a decade, according to figures revealed by the Guardian’s
Beyond the blade project, which aims to show the true picture of knife deaths
among children and teenagers in the UK.
Between April 2006 and April 2011, 40 children and teenagers were killed in
homicides involving a knife in Scotland; between 2011 and 2016, that figure
fell to just eight. The decline has been most precipitous in Glasgow, which
once had one of the highest murder rates in Western Europe. Between 2006
and 2011, 15 children and teenagers were killed with knives in Scotland’s
largest city; between April 2011 and April 2016, none were.

The number of people carrying knives also appears to have declined across
Scotland. According to figures from Police Scotland, there was 10,110 recorded
incidents of handling an offensive weapon in 2006-07, a figure which fell to
3,111 in 2015-16 – a decline of 69% in a decade.
The Scottish Police Federarion and police officers have raised concerns in
recent years that true extent of violent crime excluding murder might not be
fully represented in the figures. Crime recording methods were changed in
April 2017 and Police Scotland say knife crime has always been accurately
recorded in the country.
Some of Scotland’s success in tackling knife crime is due to factors that are
arguably unique to Scotland. But there are also lessons here for the rest of the
UK in general and London in particular. The evidence from Scotland suggests
that while knife crime, like most crimes, can never be eradicated, it need not
be understood as an intractable, cultural feature of urban life. To successfully
tackle it, however, there needs to be a shift in understanding of the root causes
of the problem and, therefore, what a durable solution might look like.

Awards for All – £300 – £10,000 Grants

Awards for All England is the quick and easy way to get small Lottery grants of between £300 and £10,000 for voluntary and community organisations.

Awards for All offers grants of between £300 and £10,000 for grassroots and community activity that aims to improve life for local people and neighbourhoods.

It doesn’t have a deadline and you can apply at any time. It is our most popular grants programme so we will prioritise groups with smaller incomes. Due to high demand on the programme, organisations that have a large annual income may not be able to get funding through Awards for All.

We recommend you send us your application at least four months before you want your project to start.

Please read the guidance notes (below) for a better chance of success with your application. We have very clear criteria as to what we can and cannot fund and explain how we prioritise applications to allow us to decide on which projects to fund.

Croydon BME Forum is available to support you in putting your application together.  Call us on 02086843719 to book an appointment.

Click here to read more and to apply.