Representatives from Off the Streets – NN8 have met with MP from Wellingborough Peter Bone and Jason Smithers Leader of the North Northants Council (NNC) , and Mike Greenway -NNC Safer Communities team.
Community representatives held the high-level talks to feedback information to those in leadership gleaned from recent meetings held relating to knife crime in the Wellingborough Area.The face-to-face meeting follows a march held last weekend where 500 people walked through Wellingborough in an act of solidarity against knife crime and its effects on residents' lives.
Action was sparked by the killing of 16-year-old Dylan Holliday on the Queensway estate earlier this month. Ravaun Jones co-founder of Off the Streets – NN8 said: "The meeting was very productive and the members of Off the Streets NN8 were made to feel very welcome and were treated as equal partners around the table.
"The message which we were given was that the council want to work from a ‘bottom up’ approach to ensure that local communities had the opportunity to be heard, and for their concerns to be addressed with purposeful actions.
"The council has committed to exploring some of the longer term projects identified by community members and have committed to addressing some of the immediate needs of the community. They have welcomed the idea of building an off the road bike track but wished to express that a project such as this will take time and planning.
"They will immediately address issues of community relations with police, and will ensure amnesty bins for collection of knives are put into place around the local community straightaway.
"They have agreed for local police to complete a visual audit of certain areas to ensure poor lighting and disrepair are being remedied. They have also committed to providing ‘seed’ funding for the creation of a youth forum where local young people can be given a voice and be mentored to be young leaders within the community.
"Off The Streets - NN8 want to thank the council leadership for their time and commitments, and they want to reassure community members who were in attendance at the community meetings that their voices are being heard and that the dialogue will continue to ensure our communities become safer places for all."
Off the Streets - NN8 members informed the council leaders that the community had highlighted some key concerns within the community such as:
· A distinct lack of opportunities for young people to be involved in leisure, education and employment types of activities which could help to secure a ‘safer’ future for young people in Wellingborough. And nowhere for young people to go.
· Areas of neglect geographically, rubbish, poor lighting, lack of CCTV, lack of visible community policing.
· Lack of information for parents as to how to recognise signs that a child is involved in crime/drugs etc. or what to do if they suspect their child is carrying a knife.
· Lack of listeners i.e. mentors, safe houses/places for people to go if they are in trouble.
· Poverty and many families living under what society would call and acceptable income and possible discrimination from others due to levels of deprivation.
· Lack of meaningful community engagement from local police officers.
Off The Streets - NN8 also informed the council of the ways in which community members want to work in partnership with local authorities and businesses to offer solutions to some of these issues.
· To create vibrant spaces for young people to become involved in leisure and employment pursuits. The introduction of an off-road bike park, where local businesses can come and support and mentor young people as how to maintain bikes safely and teach them mechanical skills. Perhaps build up old bikes to sell on to create a revenue for such ventures. (help from prison, local authority and local volunteers/businesses, young community members) – work has already started in this area.
· Amnesty bins to be located around the area to help to collect knives from the street (police/local authority)
· Local enterprise credit scheme/time bank to be set up where young people can do local jobs and earn credit towards gym sessions/booking of sports courts etc. (local voluntary bureaux, local authority)
· A local apprenticeship scheme. Local companies to be given some incentives to be trained to mentor young people and to create apprenticeship/employment/work experience opportunities for young people. Local letter drops informing the community of opportunities. (local authority, businesses and colleges).
· Schools to make their leisure resources open to communities during term time. (Local Authorities.)
Mr Jones added: "The leaders present at the meeting were informed that these issues and solutions were only a snapshot of what had been discussed and were informed that a report is due to be produced with a full list of issues discussed at the recent community meetings."