Growing up with gangs, poverty and knife crime: a look back


Christmas where revisiting. Some of our favorite today InFocus stories. We spent four months at the beginning of the year following early on an I.. Anna as their beloved youth club the ball. I was demolished and squeezed into a much smaller space. We're incredibly proud of this episode and it got nominated waited for British journalism award. Do make sure you listen until the end of the episode where will have from faith young people about what has happened since Thoughts on these. This is the center South Acton Five. PM just off the school. Suddenly the atmosphere feels really tents chance. Go inside gang. Members from Tottenham about fifty miles across London have been spotted in the area and they've got violent rivalry going over some of the people you can hand now weighing up to react. One boy wanted to chase another guy told him not to. So it's so easy to see how the two groups could miscalculate here and something could happen in the one of the guys said Noah. Nobody's going to weapons. They were unarmed. The reason for that was they were at the Youth Club and they were allowed to have weapons so instead of giving chase ending up in a confrontation could let someone being stabbed. Just calm down a bit back into the baller and something that had the potential to be tragic had been averted Brooke Center in South Acton is in an area of massive inequality entrenched gang violence a knife life crime Leon and Ianna he were eighteen have been going matthews. Is there episode from the Guardian. I'm each Gristana today. In focus the shrinking of the Ballo Youth Club. They say rob a the social affairs. Correspondent et Guardian. You and Josh Kelly one of our producers here on today InFocus have. I've been going to the ballet for the last four months. How did you end up there? Back in November. I've been following the UN special reporter on Extreme Poverty Philip Halston on his tour around the UK that was the one where we spoke about millions of children in the country being locked into a cycle of poverty from which most will have great difficulty escaping and he talked about poverty in the UK being a deliberate political choice and there was one meeting on his toilet. Really stuck out for me. A group of young people from Westland about housing and custody services. What would you what would an ideal you send look? We want to know what they wanted to a youth center and their answer was quite surprising. I simply said they wanted space. They were first about the wait. Look to what the facilities where they just one of the place that wasn't at home which might be overcrowded wasn't school it wasn't on the street denny. Any also them any of you actually live in an area where youth center has been close to has cut back dramatically. Yeah and a big group of people showed the our youth centers getting moved and Trunk De Angry about. There's a girl called Diana who was basically screaming olsten begging him to tell the government ministers not to cut the use back. There you censor so these young people were from the Bali you central and south accident which is run by calling Brent. who were thrilling council? At at the moment that they would talk to Allston. They're in the process of moving. The council decided that the site that they'd been in for years should be knocked down to make way for some new apartments. It's a huge regeneration of postwar counselor state that since factor they were going to get a new but much smaller sites about half the size of Thera existing you censor and it was going to the bottom floor of a new apartment block built just around the corner so I went to a few of them off to. It's an awesome if we could follow them around for a little while while they moved here that you may and who've been with over this time where we're in Salt Act. Two minute wallow follow. You said this is the final days of this low building here. We've changed his name actually because he asked us to. The first person I met he'll show Josh around. I'm lightest the kitchen. Sometimes it's most other net buddies. Let's put some rich and then leave and smoking over there. Get food dust. No no no no. You'RE GONNA be outside in it Of Some fucking around here. That's not gonNA involve us because we're on at all so we keep Ed Stephan that's the thing A lot of people call tonight. What you still in? That's right and I have listened to kill us. Be An amid. It's not just bend your back in on these get winded on breath and say what was the main this place who live bro. You see below you know saying it's fucking perfect. Yeah there's people that smoke weed outside then yeah light light. Once once in a blue moon you'll see saw in my TACO army. Yeah but it's like cool fam- join us. This is the longtime game is. When you go I it's just ping pong and then it then it becomes something else your friends and you have discussing? Then you start moving onto Latin. When light your age eighteen to call in about issues? They try finding jobs. They'll help support. You Know Dull Jami is a place so he can vent your mental frustration. Follow is a safe haven for law people in place on a lovely lovely. I love listen. We met Leeann again on the freezing cold night in January and the first place that he took us to resist salt secret spot that he used to go when he was younger. Actually go on to the top floor of one of the tallest old council towers in the area and anybody knows about it can just get up there. Ah these days you've got. Wow this this things in south acton that you can we'll never get to see because I'll never come to this book and you get to see shit like this is is my Salah so for the top has an incredible view. You could see most of London's London borough right across in. The foreground was Westfield the biggest shopping center in Europe Europe. Just down the road. Then just over the railway tracks Chizik where the average house prices about nine hundred thousand pounds a now this area where we Seems to be changing to the council blow with surrounded by smart new apartment blocks of a springing up around it. You see you see those those towels up there. So those buildings those were like the shittiest blocks in south acton in it but not down the ones down there by volatility new but these are like the first books to go up when Safa did you call it. Yeah gentrify identify who identify the not lie. Everyone's thinking raw diesel. Nice people are excited about. I don't think they're going to start raising the rented. And then you're gonNA have to fuck you move out and find some and then I mean if they want they just want it to build more housing for for people who need to counsel how they would keep these blocks and just try to. I mean what what not down to raise the prices so it looks more interesting to invest. So they can change this area to north instead of instead of Acton the basically a story for every street corner is we. Didn't it Salat Corner right there. I saw someone that I knew. Fly for years yeah. Someone carved their initials into his face because he was short short in his life drugs he liked literally call broad daylight in in front of carved an s an eye into his face US SORTA now. So let's go bro. It was took his they. They told him. Take your child's down out there in his boxers club. This how fifteen sixteen I was like I was like twelve. Eleven time minute. So they used to be a gang here cooed. MVP in it. Yeah and they used to be blue in you could wear red around here. Li- Li- role. I remember my mom. Try Get me to wear a red top around here. I Bro. I was literally bullying my is trying to say no. I'm not I'm not doing. I'm doing it because if I were tough round headlights on. Who's going to clapping broiler? La La la La. I didn't tell my mom that I just kept kept on ten. I'm just not going to do in it. Why didn't you tell you don't want to lower unit? Mums malign like they've already they already have enough on their plate. You don't add and this is from young. You know you not to worry your mom even like because what can she do your living in the area. Yeah Yeah Jami. He's calling me out. I mean you get used to when you when because you see it from young and you see violence from young mean so you so you kinda get desensitized suet free people in my life and it. Yeah and Li- Li- let's not a lot compared to a lot of people. I'm interested interested by the fact that people around you guys you often on the fringes of of gangs if not in them and that is quite a difficult place to be you. Can you talk about in that sense of kind of the danger of being sucked into or the pressure of you know. Yeah because because for a long time the the gunman was allowed the cool ones so so a lot of kids a lot of kids who don't have that stability at home go to that literally as as a family together I mean you know. Does this how how society is built for all working class people. They don't have father figures they don't or they have drug addicted parents. I mean it's about trenched it's entrenched in it problem. This quote shooting is is privacy. Now we go live with now it is no solving it. What does it come from will cause it comes from poverty? Lack of education comes from comes from Alaska stability in the homes. That comes from a lot of things. That's just how life isn't it because when you off when when you're when you haven't got nothing really liked that line lie you and you see that's the thing Chizik is right over there right on edge raw. We'll we'll have to go so good down there smart like you see them drive impossible to Bentley's you see them. They get on the same buses used to go home and and from school in new allow raw. These don't have the problems. I have these little going home. He's fucking having a full arming diesel. Infant an all credit some light light role. She Fed me whenever she could get the sometimes. Where does that she just know them? Food and sometimes there's no. I mean you go away wakeup a freezing cold Georgia before school. You gotta you gotTa get a Pan you fill out with cold war go here up wait fifteen not minutes imagine you can. You can bring a lot of fill the war and it's not gonNA fill up your boss. Did you still an still cold as hell addition today it's shit you don't feel like learning on this is this is the call the phone and you're not going to want to learn if you gotta wake up fifteen minutes earlier than the next man. Yeah to to heat up fuck imports so you can take a bath and I don't know what you can do to fix that. I have no fucking include because that is some systemic poverty describing Experience Underpins the news when we hear about stoppings and killings and drug gangs. That you don't hear about you don't hear about why it happens. You don't hear about you you just think. Oh these these kids just going out in San Benito but mostly it's mostly portrayed as Blackie and Tagami. I can't speak for every area but area that I'm in is not just blacklist that dude so the ball has been an important part of your lives. you called a safe haven. But now it's being moved moved made much smaller. How's that going to affect? Things comes less than that because if if that's the place yeah that was Hannah China people safe haven and your shrink did squeezing it on how to benefit anyone Tagami fro. I don't know it just seems so counter. Intuitive that's why you need people from communities dot to represent Del Community Tagami. I'm not saying Oh you can't you can't represent all community. You don't always go where I'm seeing. You don't know what's going on it the same way. I don't know what's going on in your neighborhood like the same way. I don't know about the Chelsea Chelsea Garden Festival and the issues that brings up. You don't know about game violence issues it brings up here to go. I mean how you know. You have to look over your shoulder every time. Let me see a pedal you don't know about this and I don't even smoke weed. Tagami bomb paranoid twenty fours when I'm looking at two. Tell me a little bit more about the Bowler. Who's running regard runs? It's Golic will call him. Brent is youth worker originally from Bristol Bay. He spent about ten years in London. Everyone seems to love. Him is a very thoughtful approachable category. I it really is game frightens. I mean take for example around here. We've got the third set gang. Who none of them are really from south accent that they represent South Acton? Live here in Shepherd's Bush you have twelve anti who currently beef in Northampton Eastern this jobs about crime in this area. They'll took up this time. Then you got that means. He's completely immersed in the latest situations between different Guy Nelson. You know. It's a really difficult position position where actually increasing the young people quite mobile in some respects. Don't even know who site that supposed to be on anymore. Collins usually finds out about beef before the police also techniques to try and defuse tensions when violence looks possible two times that's just reassuring people when they'd be made to look foolish on snapchat or instagram. Sometimes persuaded friends to convince other friends. Not to retaliate. Calling those out out to get messages out to where the gangs in other areas of London to say personnel. He doesn't like the beef to go any further with person. B and that could deescalate the situation. Suppose it's full of diplomacy really be says the most important thing simply for the youth center to be there just to exist now. Young people people we work with really want to be gained. That's not no one wakes up and says you know what I WANNA do. I WanNa say if my life the vast majority of them want to get out. I don't know how and know what there is for them to get out to answer. They get involved in drugs and they get involved in gangs involved in alternative systems of power. Aw whether they can be powerful. So that's kind of chaos that people young people live within and we try to be alongside them in chaos. This is a place where reality can cut through it right. Yeah I mean here. We kind of we know individuals we know we know that we know. WHOA WHOA that living conditions are we know you know says this identity of the you know the gang member who's powerful kind of person that may be someone else else? You'd never met them. We'll look up to it's cool and we know that you that maybe they go home. They sleep on a mattress on the floor in shed accommodation And so oh and they know that we know that and they know that if they want to they can come and they can break down on us because the stress actually on them is immense for some people will hang is not a place where they I want to be. These are not teenagers. Who can slam the door in there in that parents face and stay in that bedroom? You know teenagers doing that bedroom. Because they don't have a bedroom they sleep on the sofa in the living room. There happened to fight and hustle to survive together in the same space and that necessarily puts hello strain on people's relationships out on so this ANA also by the way not her real name this idea of overcrowding and a lack of space law and behind the other problems Colin has been talking about something that she is lived out. Choose the Assad the episode who shot seeing it for the polston about the Ballo. Being shrunken down. She's good friends ends with their own and they were hanging out wishing TV when she invited US rancher her home small single bedroom at the Ymca the kind of place where people who find themselves. This can live. I sort of my mom's house at the time I was Mom Milo Bravo and my ex-boyfriend me that's four people in a two bedroom flat. My mom was in uni so she would wanna stay in the Living Room on the SOFA and do Iraq or not and she'd sleep on a so far tied the next morning but then there's people getting up in the night go into get food from the kitchen and it's all linked so you'll get an on each other's nerves continuously. It was getting too much for her. Because mom's got like the fresher and Asaf the relationship. It broke down so a one Africa's came back home and like my clothes. Were like all in the room coming up to like so. They're not just packed and left lot. She she played sold out onto the floor last the whole room which is filled with close. I just acing. After a mum cater out she realized she was homeless. She went to the council but she says they couldn't help her. They was literally like okay. Well when I went into your pregnant you don't have a child already. You're not disabled. So Oh you're not a priority. I slept on buses then. I was at my friend's house and then obviously you know you can't really do that too long. I was still trying to help myself. I was Trans View. INS trying to get a tendency agreement. Try to take it to the Jobson and get like a normal flat but it's not that easy easy you don't have a reference you're eighteen they need first month's rent under Pussy Upfront. I used to walk around with like okay. Got About twenty bags of clothes. I felt hopeless lap around the the other night and looking at all the new development element that's going on there and this tons and tons of housing being built around there and yet you've had this so awful struggle in recent months us us. It's not for us. That's stuff that has not for us to be seen. How how do you think they'll ever give me housing there so when you look the what's going on around the with the follow and those that housing what do you think you have space at home cool you got up to baller by then look what happened in there? Now they're trying to cut off the making you've clubs smaller so then you face at home you don't base there where you're gonNA tend you're going to go and try find some type of like you're GonNa find out you belong outside on the street right and that's why people have strong ties to dad ends to like the area because that's where he grew up on on the streets so that's why you'll find all of these lot fighting over it it because their friends that Bros. the family basically it substitutes. If you don't have something like that home you go out and you find among your friends right so then you're willing to fight for it right for for for an area that your mom doesn't even literally own housing so it's full months off the Allston meeting and it's the first day of the New College Ion Leon method to show us around. So what was it like much smaller than the original below which is a big spacious series spaces where you could kick a football around. This was inserted into the bottom of a new apartment block. It didn't seem like it was designed originally to be center so there were several different rooms. That was a big staircase. took up a lot of the space and there were strange design it features like a balcony. You couldn't even get to. I think the kids felt like they were getting something new and fresh. And they're quite excited about it but when they were looking at it they were puzzled. The bout how operate didn't fill out the same sort of home that had of the Bali. About what do you make this new place I spits more in stone asked life. It's not bad you see in the twitter smart to in the West mood toilets. All my as I can because he tweeted the Beth. I'm sure that actually that's not see fucking fucking by on new the mental families. I'm not at the medicine. Oh God Chretien's that's kind of a bit white goal besides burn up a place to run around. Yeah we don't even have like a wonderful. It's a wonderful life. Nothing like that will remind you can talk to people all you need to see that. I don't have the old bull caller this half the size. Does that matter to you in terms of what you can do. Yeah we will try to make it work. We'll try to make this. Having what we want is is the same volume of young people coming free middle caught wide. The Y you could throw you better and this is a narrow net and this is kind of a trite thing to say the Youth Club thing you know she's think Oh here we go clubs and youth clubs are going to stop. All the prompts actually actually have been kind of investigate this with you guys. It seems to me the US exactly what we do need and and we need it it needs to be invested in. We all work often with young people who are incredibly vulnerable and we have to have space have space to work with them. You know physical to answer your space. Looks lovely. But we'll be challenges. You remember when you spoke to Philip poster thing. Thank you said to him that you've already excited about the fact that he was GonNa take what you guys told him until the Government Minister Bouncer. Anyway I'll do my best and I think you'll read about in the in the full months old. Your here in the office is the one era before and you'll still in the YMCA Does anything change since she met him. Obviously he did raise it and food he found a very good job of portraying every that we did put full to him like in his report because I Subaru Buffalo lack this taken the same approach as they did. The government has tried to watch something under the carpet. Nothing's going to get sold really. That does not moving forward like I said I said before. That's why people join gangs the things because they felt that opinion doesn't really matter that much. Nothing's really get a change. So I find that sense of belonging in the streets instead of what he should feel kind of like they belong. Listen Twenty Four House. After we left we heard the I-IPAD san the seventeen year old who attended the youth up had been stopped. Death and Wisconsin. How sound was so slight? He was nicknamed his family said that he wants to be a barrister the last week. Fifteen year old boy was charged with his murder. The Guardian contacted Ealing Council. He who said that. The councils government funding have been cut by sixty four percent. They said the youth service budget had fallen for more than one point. Eight million to under eight hundred thousand feeling is committed to ensuring provision is in place for young people by added but this loss of funding has meant that difficult decisions had to be taken and with three part time centers being forced to close we remain committed to providing you services and have three full time youth centers one of which is on this estate. So you can read all of his reporting at the Guardian Dot Com coming up. What's happened at the ballet since the move Now since the follow moved achieved. I'm afraid to say things haven't been great particularly relations with some of the neighbors in the brand new luxury. Housing above residents have signed a petition calling for the a youth club to be thrown out to turn the space into a tumble Dryer Facility for residents a private library or a coffee shop. Josh and rob have been going back to South Acton ten following the story with Anna and Leon and we'll bring you a full episode early in the New Year but for now here they are talking about what they're doing for Christmas Ninety whatever ball is Dan for Christmas. I'm Dan for Christmas because I'm learned for Christmas in it. And hopefully if these of that petition position of it sounds like Turkey over the. That'll be good though. It's like dressed up as Santa Rosa. Think that'd be fun. Will you more life in it more life. Just wish wish to prosper my friends. Recently I've ever want to achieve in two thousand twenty. You didn't do. This is make like a list today. At least maybe sometimes free today. The top of the list. You'd be shocked actually. Two Thousand Twenty. I want to be happy. That's what I want to do. Any of started making music now like properly and lack back. I'M GONNA take it serious. I'm trying to do that. I'm going to have a spotify by the end of two thousand twenty and a music video and and I will have passed my level three and interior design an architecture. Yeah it's like when people used to ask me. Would you WANNA be when you're the older when I was younger and I want to be content with have which I am some really proud of myself for that people can get get caught up in the bitterness of not having much Badeah even you just have to have faith. They will get better and it will get bar and negative. It doesn't really really bring morty so you should just always try to stay positive and keep going forward going to a that. Was Leon an Eye Anna. Thanks so much once again to them. We'll oh hear more from them in the coming months. Thanks also to column Brandt and Robbie they step aside was produced by Josh Kelley. Sound design was by Axel Kukuchi. The update was mixed by Ian Chambers and the executive producers on the Coal Jackson and Phil may not. I hope you have a lovely Christmas. We're going to be back on the twenty seven

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