THE INCREDIBLE AND THE AWFUL

At its start, I’d been watching Darren, our brilliant new community organiser, in action. He’s a former pupil of Evelyn Grace School. I marvelled at his skill in drawing out the anger of young people and quickly focusing this emotion in a positive way, asking them to paint a picture of “the world as it should be”.

We also co-hosted a community meal, gathering young people and adults together to share food and play games in a safe, fun and welcoming space for all. 

Then there was the shooting.

As I left our office on Thursday lunchtime, I heard a gunshot. I turned to see a young man with a weapon speed off on the back of a moped. The next couple of hours were a whirlwind of armed police, concerned neighbours and young people, and trying to process what had happened. Thankfully, the young man who was shot at was unharmed.

The previous day there had been three other shootings locally. By the middle of the following week the surge of violence had resulted in five young lives lost, four of them in South London. People we know took victims to hospital, witnessed a fatal fight, or had classmates killed. The ripples of trauma extend far beyond those directly involved.

What does this mean for the community? Maxine*, a single mum, lives near me in a flat on Angell Town. Because of the risk of violence, she never lets her boys (Jake* aged 9 and Owen* aged 11) go out to play unless she knows exactly where they are and who they are with. Normally she walks them to and from school. Ironically, the day that Maxine had finally felt able to let Owen walk home from school on his own was the day of the shooting. Next day, the Metro newspaper’s headline article highlighted that the peak time for knife violence is when young people are heading home after school. 

Maxine won’t let Jake and Owen walk home unaccompanied again. The shooting has taken its toll on many more people than the victim.

Paul Maxwell-Rose

*Names have been changed

HELP BUILD PEACE IN BRIXTON THIS CHRISTMAS

This Christmas, will you stand with the community of Brixton and help them to bring PEACE to their streets, and hope for all young people?

CHIPS is taking part in the The Big Give campaign from 27 November – 4 December.

Support us and your donation could be DOUBLED!

We need to raise at least £12,000 to help fund peacemaking work in Brixton over the coming year. But we can only do this with your help.

DONATE TODAY HERE.

Thank you. 

An overview of youth violence in Brixton

For three years, at the invitation of the community, we’ve lived and worked with the community living on Brixton’s Loughborough and Angell Town estates. 

Building peace can take a long time. It starts with earning the trust of people from across different groups. So over many months we’ve hosted shared meals, run street-based youth work, taken young people on trips, run creative activities, and worked with children and teenagers in schools. By building strong relationships, we can learn what’s really going on under the surface and seek out the hidden peacemakers. 

We look for existing ‘glimmers of hope’ and try to nurture these. One example in Brixton is the informal network of amazing mums who open up their homes to welcome and feed dozens of youngsters and give them a safe space and generous care. They do what they can with the little they have. Such love radiates a widespread positive influence. We marvel at these incredible women and seek to journey with them through the highs and lows of their generous lifestyles. 

Lasting peace is achieved when the community itself is empowered to tackle the root causes of conflict – poverty and inequality. Brixton includes some of the most deprived areas in the UK. Many young people feel powerless, trapped and frustrated, that the system is rigged against them. Already surrounded by violence, they are drawn into violence themselves.

CHIPS aims to empower the community to break that cycle. 

And, with your support, over the next year we’ll mobilise communities to come together to begin that process.

We’ll bring people from different estates in Brixton together over shared frustrations and guide them to channel their anger into positive action. We’ll support them to identify potential solutions and work together to implement those solutions. This creative, dynamic process of building relational power will grow relationships between people on different estates and start to break down the divides.

It will empower them to bring change, which will in turn reduce their frustration and, in turn, the violence.

As one expert on violence and trauma says “Relational trauma requires relational repair” – it is only through fostering many more safe, healthy, constructive and diverse relationships that we can help Brixton’s community to heal the damage done by this conflict and so seek a future in peace.


 

HELP BUILD PEACE IN BRIXTON THIS CHRISTMAS

This Christmas, will you stand with the community of Brixton and help them to bring PEACE to their streets, and hope for all young people?

CHIPS is taking part in the The Big Give campaign from 27 November – 4 December.

Support us and your donation could be DOUBLED!

We need to raise at least £12,000 to help fund peacemaking work in Brixton over the coming year. But we can only do this with your help.

DONATE TODAY HERE.

Thank you.

CHIPS in schools: 50% reduction in pupils at risk of exclusion

Through fun, creative, young person-led small group sessions we shaped a safe and positive space together where challenging issues and the reality of life could be shared. 

Through dynamic activities, conversation and the healing power of good relationships, we worked to improve communication, critical thinking, emotional articulation and relationship building skills.

The mother of one boy saw such an improvement in his attitudes and behaviour that she rang the school to ask what had been going on! For many of the students attendance and behaviour improved significantly and attitude to teachers and fellow pupils has become much more positive. 

A senior teacher says, “The programme was of massive benefit to our students. In particular two year ten boys really seemed to step up and by the end of this Year 11 they will not only have made it but I think they will become successful. I can’t give a higher testimony than that.

Four of the teenagers are no longer at risk of exclusion. Two more are now less at risk. Two were excluded, but the school acknowledges that those incidents were outside of our control. 

The headmaster is so impressed with the changes he’s seen that he has taken it as an example to other schools across the borough of how to engage with students they are most concerned about.

 


 

HELP BUILD PEACE IN BRIXTON THIS CHRISTMAS

This Christmas, will you stand with the community of Brixton and help them to bring PEACE to their streets, and hope for all young people?

CHIPS is taking part in the The Big Give campaign from 27 November – 4 December.

Support us and your donation could be DOUBLED!

We need to raise at least £12,000 to help fund peacemaking work in Brixton over the coming year. But we can only do this with your help.

DONATE TODAY HERE.

Thank you.