CHIPS Big Give Christmas Challenge: Give Brixton’s young people a voice!
Meet Wayne: “CHIPS is there for me when I need someone to listen.”
Wayne is 12 and has been excluded from school more than once. We met him at primary school. Since then, we have had an opportunity to mentor him and support his family through a challenging period. We don’t know what the future holds for Wayne. Once, he went missing from home for several days and nobody knew where he was.
This summer, Wayne took part in an activity week that we organised for young people in Brixton. We could tell he really enjoyed being part of a team and it sparked a new enthusiasm for life. He continues to visit us regularly and says he feels he can talk to us, even when nobody else is listening.
Our work is focused on Brixton, in the London borough of Lambeth. We love the borough’s vibrancy and diversity but it is also a place of great inequality. As a result, many young people tell us they feel powerless, frustrated and not listened to. Some turn to violence.
Lambeth has the highest volume of serious youth violence of all London boroughs and the highest number of ambulance call-outs for young victims of assault. It is estimated that almost half of all recorded serious violent crimes against young people involve a knife and the actual figure would likely be higher if recording accuracy were improved.
The cycle of violence is devastating the lives of young people and families and blights the whole of the local community. Breaking the cycle successfully means tackling the root causes of Brixton’s inequalities and giving its young people a voice about the future.
Our solution: Voices for Change
Voices for Change is a new CHIPS project. It brings together, and builds on, two of CHIPS’ most successful areas of work in Brixton to date. These are community organising and partnership with schools.
Through community organising, we work with young people and families affected by or at risk of violence, and through our partnership with schools we work with students at risk of exclusion. Both are equally important to our strategy of tackling youth violence and by delivering them together as one project, we believe we can build peace in Brixton!
You can donate online quickly and easily using our donate button here or at the top of the page. Remember that, to be eligible for match funding and have your donation DOUBLED, all gifts must be made between midday Tuesday 3 December and midday Tuesday 10 December only.
Meet Jayne, Mason and George: “I’ve never organised anything before. Now I’ve got the confidence to do anything!”
We got to know Jayne, Mason and George this summer. The three teenagers had a great idea for bringing young people on the Angell Town estate together, so we empowered them to make it happen.
They organised a games and movie night for around 20 young people, fundraising some money, organising a vote to choose the activities, and issuing the invites. We helped them with planning and supervised to ensure things ran smoothly. For many people, this may not seem like a big deal. But for three teenagers who’d never had the opportunity to organise something before, it really helped them engage with their community and understand how they can make things happen. They’re planning to work with us on a big BBQ next!
Meet Jonas: “I was nearly thrown out of school. Now my teacher says I’m headed for success!”
Jonas is 14. He lives in Brixton and when CHIPS first met him, he was angry and frustrated and felt nobody was listening. At school, he was disruptive and at risk of exclusion. His teacher thought he ‘wasn’t going to make it’.
We worked with Jonas for a year. Through regular group mentoring and trips outside the neighbourhood, we helped him to identify the issues he cared about and explore how he could help make change happen. Jonas began to find his voice. He began to talk more openly and meaningfully, his school attendance improved, and he started to engage in more positive ways. His teacher said that, by the end of the year, he would not only have ‘made it’ but will be a success.
More about our Voices for Change programme
Partnership with schools
CHIPS partners with a number of secondary schools in Lambeth with the aim of reducing the number of exclusions. Two CHIPS youth workers facilitate regular group mentoring sessions, and activities outside the area, with students at risk of exclusion to help them identify the shared causes, interests and issues they care about most and empower them to make change happen. This part of the project is already funded, thanks to support from The Walcot Foundation.
The money we receive from our Big Give campaign will go towards funding this part of the project, which builds on CHIPS’ experience of living and working with local communities over the past six years. We work with young people and their families in three of Brixton’s largest estates to understand their frustrations and concerns, and then partner with them to help them drive change. As we help them channel anger into positive action and bring opposing groups together, we are able to tackle the causes of violence together and build peace.
How does our community organising work?
- Citizens UK has trained the CHIPS team in community organising. We work young people and families in three of the largest estates in Brixton – Angell Town, Loughborough and Moorlands.
- Our youth workers and volunteers co-ordinate 1-to-1 discussions with young people. We encourage them to share their frustrations and discuss their hopes for change.
- We work with them to identify shared issues and concerns. We set up groups on each estate, identify potential actions and empower them to deliver change through practical, community-based solutions.
- We also support the groups to collaborate together across the different estates. In this way, we encourage them to work on wider social action projects that span local divides and postcodes.
- As groups continue to meet together regularly and gain experience of community organising, they build a network of relationships and become better able to anticipate and respond to new frustrations before they lead to violence.
What is community organising?
“Community organising is about returning power to people” – Citizens UK
“When communities work together, the possibilities for positive change are endless” – Community Organisers
When communities are organised, it means they get heard and the centre of gravity of power begins to shift. As confidence grows, they start to influence others in government, business and public life. New leaders emerge and develop and become changemakers for their communities.
Names, personal details and photos have been changed in our people stories to protect privacy.
Donations will be doubled while matched funds last, midday Tuesday 3 December to midday 10 December only.