Young people in Suffolk on crime, attitudes and change
- Credit: Tom Cann
Young people from around Suffolk came together at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich to discuss issues surrounding crime, people's attitudes towards it and how it can be prevented.
Run by Volunteering Matters and held on Power of Youth Day on June 6, young people, volunteers and figures from Ipswich council gathered at the historic mansion to celebrate young people and what they do in the community, but also to discuss issues in the area.
Four youngsters from Peer Action Collective, Eyob, Abraham, Frederico and Beatriz are researching crime in the area, and how it can be reduced.
Eyob, 21 said: "we are working for younger people who are in need to stop them from crime, that is what we are working on now."
Frederico, 20, added: "Even doing the research and going around, you can see how young people are in Ipswich.
"I have seen people looking around 15 years old, and they are smoking weed and stuff in the street, and people aren't doing anything about that, which is really awful."
Part of the evening saw an opportunity for young people to show off their projects and artwork, including masks, posters and a dark room with a voice recording of people saying "you may tell me to go back to where I came from, but still, we raise up", as a response to racism they have endured.
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Among those in attendance, was Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore, and the Mayor of Ipswich, John Cook.
Mr Cook said: "I know there is a bit of prejudice aimed at young people who are committing crimes, but actually they are more likely to be victims of crime than they are to commit."
There was a guest speaker at the event too, Omar O'Connor, who spoke about his experiences of violence and crime.
When he was at university in Birmingham, he was stabbed when trying to save two girls. He was stabbed in the back, while his friend, unfortunately, was killed by the blade.
He said: "I would hear other events of people getting stabbed, I’ve seen people getting shot in venues and I just did not care anymore, I would just stand there and sip my drink.
"I hated everyone and everything, I couldn’t communicate with anybody because I got social anxiety, and I had many suicidal thoughts.
"The conflict I had with myself, growing up in a gospel environment and Christian family, I didn’t understand why I had been struck in the first place because I didn’t do anything, my friend had his hands in the air, neutral, didn’t want any trouble.
"Any question that you have, any thought in regards to crime, in regards to young people or a young person that is going through it, that is being bullied in a way, now is the opportunity to ask, now is the opportunity to speak.
"I will be transparent, I will tell the truth because I think that is the answer to being able to solve what is happening in our street, is to be able to hear the truth and being able to accept it, and then move on and progress with it."
A large part of the evening was used for discussion between the young people and the adults that were there.
Adults were asked questions about who saved them from crime when they were young, what they had to go through, what challenges young people face today, and what can be done to help steer people away from crime.
Cards were held by the young people to show what they think could be done.
Some of the ideas they had were better public services, better mobile networks and better security in pubs and nightclubs.
Another suggestion put forward by Omar, was to open 24-hour youth centres. He said: A lot of the time, they say come back Monday, and sometimes, that person doesn't make it to Monday."