Merton Council’s annual ‘Week of Peace’ begins on September 19.
By David Churchill
Young people are being targeted by Merton Council’s annual ‘Week of Peace’ launched in Wimbledon Piazza yesterday.
All 32 London boroughs will participate from September 19-25 with initiatives to promote diversity, equality and social harmony.
Merton will be focusing on issues surrounding youth in the community under the theme ‘Giving Back’.
Councillor for Community Safety, Engagement and Equalities, Edith Macauley, said: “We are trying to engage a lot of people in the youth project.
“We have lots of activities to make sure that, especially in the Mitcham area, we educate them about how to live in peace and harmony with each other, regardless of race or colour, but also because a lot of the trouble has a lot to do with gangsters.”
Targeting gang culture is a priority after figures released this year showed knife crime rose 35% in Merton between 2009-10 – the largest increase across all boroughs.
Local resident Alexander Rose, winner of London’s Peace Award 2009, is hosting an anti-knife workshop on Thursday 23 to educate young people about gang culture.
Alexander, who has witnessed violence first hand, founded the Solve This Ongoing Problem (STOP) campaign after his friend, Eugene Attram, was stabbed to death in Mitcham in 2006.
His campaign discourages young people from carrying weapons while promoting devotion to positive activities.
He is one of many volunteers aiding the running of the week.
Volunteer Centre Merton has organised a ‘Youth Question Time’ on Friday 24 which hopes to engage youths and ask about their priorities.
It will provide opportunities to learn about democracy and how the council works to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.
The wealth of volunteering has been welcomed by the council given their recent announcement to cut £70million over four years.
Councillor Macauley said: “Local authorities are now forced to make at least over 20% cuts in their funding.
“But we have a lot of volunteers in this borough who give up their time, some people three or four hours a day, giving back to people in the community.
“This year’s theme of Peace Week is ‘Giving Back’. Obviously it is an opportunity for residents to consider volunteering and giving back to their community.”
Other activities during the week include a ‘Be a Peace Maker in Your Community’ workshop and ‘Peace Walk’, both taking place on Wednesday 22.
All will be rounded off by a family fun day at Mitcham Fair Green on September 25 with an eclectic mix of Irish dancing, opera, Indian dancing, African drumming and drama performances from local young people.
Merton Council leader, Stephen Alambitis, said: “This year’s Peace Week promises to have something for everyone and I would encourage as many people as possible to get involved, enjoy the celebrations and also think about the theme of ‘Giving Back’.”
Anyone interested in taking part should contact Merton Council on 020 8545 3156/4637.