Aasha Gang Mediation Project teams up with gang experts from Chicago

Posted: 17 October 2008 in Events
Tags: , , , ,

The Aasha Gang Mediation Project hosted a delegation of Gang experts from Chicago during the London leg of their national tour this week. Chicago is well known for its street gangs and related shootings and murders, so this was a unique connection to share best practice and learn from experienced practitioners of ‘what works’.

The visit was organised by the Government Office for London in its efforts to tackle the concerns around UK gang culture amongst youth. The four delegates along with representatives from GoL and the British Consul joined Aasha at the Osmani Centre in the morning and during a round table discussion talked about several key issues:

  • The historical development of street gangs in Tower Hamlets
  • Comparing the nature and causes of conflicts between London and chicago
  • The issue of race and territorialism amongst street gangs
  • The necessity to continue working in both preventing conflicts but also intervening and mediating in current conflicts
  • Role modelling and higher values as key methods of ‘breaking the cycle’

Kenny Ruiz, who was voted Chicago man of the year and who is Executive Director of YMCA Street Intervention Programme emphasised the commonality that exists between the Aasha Project and his own project in Chicago: “We could take your script and stick our label on the top and it’d be exactly the same”.

Claude Robinson of UCAN talked about the need to build a ‘wining team’ around an individual young person but also the project. That team can include an uncle, a youth worker, a teacher and so forth until the young person surrounds himself with the support mechanisms to cope with the struggle of breaking free from gang lifestyle.

The Aasha Coordinator, Muhammad Rabbani, then joined the team in their car for a short ride to their next appointment – a roundtable discussion over lunch with other colleagues from around London. Rabbani was very encouraged with the days events and talks: “I felt that there was a strong sense of common purpose and values in the work that we are doing on both sides of the Atlantic. The circumstances and dynamics maybe different but the underlying socioeconomic factors and the causes are essentially the same. However, it was most interesting to see how our methods and approaches were also quite similar although perhaps not in the same proportions. Principles such as raising aspirations, role modelling, supporting young people to find direction and meaning in life ran through all of our projects”.

The Aasha Project would like to thank Margaret Barker from GoL for arranging this unique opportunity to meet such amazing personalities. It is our hope that we can build on this relationship and forge stronger links in our efforts to improve the lives of young people.

Also a big thanks to Kenny, Fred, Jorge and Claude for coming down all the way from the US to share with us their experiences.

Roundtable at the Osmani centre, [L-R] Margaret Barker (GoL), Gail Nicoll (British Consulate), Kenny Ruiz (YMCA Chicago), Fred Long (UCAN), Claude Robinson (UCAN).

Claude Robinson discussing the importance of identifying ‘champions at all strategic levels’. Aasha/BLYDA staff paying close attention [L-R] Rukon Hassan (Aasha Project Worker), Muhammad Rabbani (Aasha Coordinator) and Khoirul Alam (BLYDA Fundraising & Fundraising Coordinator)

Here’s a BBC news article covering the delegations trip to the UK: Britain learns Chicago gang plan

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Comments
  1. It’s not specifically related to this post, but I’ve been watching your blog for a while because of a very few violent crimes (shootings/stabbings) around the area that I blog about (SE11, London). I know that the Aasha Project is more related to the East End, but am wondering whether you have any up to date info for South East London about the number of gangs operating.

    Two nights ago, a 20 year old named Ashley Kemete was killed just off of Kennington Lane. Various residents have suggested (speculated?) that there are as many as 5 gangs operating in the area. I think that that’s too high (well, for this small postcode, anyway, but the resident may have been suggesting furthur afield). I’d suggest that there would be more violence/crime were there as many as 5 gangs around, but I don’t know how to test the accuracy of the hypothesis.

  2. Aasha says:

    Threewheeledone,

    Thanks for visiting. To be honest, we dont have much info on the situation in SE11. Not too sure how many gangs etc. But, I’ll keep an ear on the ground and let you know if I come across any reliable info.

    The other thing is, our project is quite sensitive about what we mean when we say gangs. Im guessing that you are referring to street gangs who are involved in crime and are known to use violence as opposed to groups of adolescent youth hanging around together. If the latter is included, the figures is likely to be 10 times higher.

    If we’re talking about street gangs, the residents could be right you know. Its not uncommon to find many gangs of youth with strong affiliations but distinct identities even in a small area, sometimes its based around estates – so you could have several in one postcode area. Personally, I don’t think gangs/groups form around postcode delineations as such, its more to do with estates and streets.

  3. Thanks Aasha.

    I hadn’t thought to be more specific over the use of the word gangs. I suppose I was thinking of street gangs involved with crime. I wouldn’t call loose groups of friends who happen to be hanging around together “gangs” because it almost puts a negative spin on what might just be socialising! However, I accept that if “gang” is being used in this looser sense, then that statistic is not that odd.

    I agree that gangs rarely form around postcode delineations (I just needed some boundaries for my blog, hence the name), but even still, the area classed as Kennington is quite small. It really depends what was meant by “around here”. If “around here” stretches to Camberwell/Peckham/Brixton, then I imagine the true figure is much higher.

  4. […] Aasha Gang Intervention Posted: September 4, 2010 by Ron in Get Involved, Intervention and Resolution, Organizations, Violence 0 https://aashaproject.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/aasha-gang-mediation-project-teams-up-with-gang-experts… […]

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