A youth club has opened in Brixton to provide a safe space and opportunity for young people ‘to seek out alternative perspectives and advice for the challenges that they may encounter in life’.
Nathaniel Martin, BMX coach and youth outreach worker for the Christian inter-denominational organisation Ascension Trust, is leading the development of a youth club on the 60/40 Youth Project to equip and empower teenagers in Lambeth.
We spoke to Mr Martin about the importance he feels effective youth work holds for young people in society.
He said: “Many young people make wrong decisions as they don’t have the right type of support behind them.
“Effective youth work gives young people the space and opportunity to seek out alternative perspectives and wise advice for the challenges that they may encounter in life.
“Well-run youth work allows young people the freedom to be themselves and simply be young people, combining freedom and youth with appropriate responsibility and care for others.”
According to Home Office figures, in the period of 2014 to 2019 there was an 80% increase in knife crime in the UK, with 169 knife offences per 100,000 people in London for the period of 2018-19.
The Lambeth Council 2018 Crime and Disorder Scrutiny report revealed that since 2014 there has been a significant increase in serious youth violence cases in the borough, rising by 212 reported incidents from 2014, with a 35% increase in Lambeth from 2016 to 2018.
Austerity and a reduction in government funded youth activities have often been cited as one of many contributing factors to the rise in youth crime.
Mr Martin said: “A reduction in opportunities for young people to engage in positive activities or to congregate in spaces with responsible adults, will always run the risk of the opportunity for young people to be misguided and exploited.
“However, there are so many factors that contribute to issues of youth crime/violence that the creation of safe spaces, and provision of responsible adults giving their time to be present in the lives of young people, can go a long way in preventing some of the areas of concern.
“We all need to work together to see who has resources, who has personnel, who has finance, who has facilities?
“Let’s have the meetings, have the discussions and then collaborate to show holistically and collectively, this is what can be done to support young people.
“It’s now more crucial to build bridges and strengthen/develop relationships than it may have ever been previously.”