PM salutes those creating positive opportunities for young people

The Prime Minister has showcased work to steer people away from the threat of crime and serious violence at a special event in Downing Street.

More than 150 people – volunteers, frontline workers and role models from sport, music and social media – who have all played a role in tackling the problem or been helped by others came together on Monday afternoon.

Guests at the reception were greeted by children and teenagers – representing Aston Villa, Manchester City and Crystal Palace through the Premier League Kicks community programme – playing football in the street.

Inside No10 a mixing desk was set-up to showcase the work the charity Only Connect does with ex-offenders who have been released from prison.

Food for the event was prepared by the Clink kitchen at HMP Downview and served by young people working with the Clink programme through the homeless charity Centrepoint.

Music artist and producer Rapman, entrepreneur Jamal Edwards and Bobby Kasanga, the founder of Hackney Wick FC shared their inspirational stories with a group of young guests in a panel discussion.

Other guests included:

  • British No1 tennis player Johanna Konta
  • Football manager Harry Redknapp and Premier League Ambassador and former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein.
  • Olympic gold medallist Dame Katherine Grainger and Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson.
  • Football pundit and former Premier League striker Mark Bright;
  • Good Morning Britain presenter Alex Beresford; and
  • Actor Michael Balogun

Also there was 11-year-old Zhara Khayer, from East London, who wrote a letter to the Prime Minister worried about her older brother’s safety, and Lois Mulhall, who used the skills she learnt as a Scout to give first aid to a stabbing victim in a south London park.

Prime Minister Theresa May told guests:

“If we are going to make our streets safer, if children like Zahra are going to feel happy going to school, then we have to steer people away from gangs and violence in the first place.

“Every young person – regardless of where they live or what community they come from – needs somewhere to go, something to do and good people around them.

“It has been a pleasure to hear first-hand about some of the great work being done by the coaches, artists, teachers and business leaders and role models in this room.

“And, at a time when the headlines about young people are all too often bleak, it has been simply inspiring to talk to those of you who have benefitted from that work.”

Monday’s event followed April’s Serious Youth Violence Summit in Downing Street.

Ahead of the reception the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of her Ministerial Taskforce on Serious Violence, who heard from young people on the Government’s Youth Advisory Forum about first-hand experiences of serious violence.

The Government has set out the need for a tough law enforcement response to serious violence, such as measures included in the Offensive Weapons Act, alongside early intervention.

We have introduced the Serious Violence Strategy and are investing over £220m in early intervention programmes. Yesterday (Monday) the Home Office also set out plans to legislate on a new “public health duty” to ensure public bodies work together to share data, intelligence and knowledge to understand and address the root causes of serious violence including knife crime.

In a further boost to opportunities for young people, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will announce this week that around 4,000 young people will benefit from a range of sport and physical activity opportunities during the summer holidays, in “hotspot” areas identified by the Home Office.

Also this week the Creating Opportunities Forum will meet for the first time, bringing together ministers and representatives from the private, public, voluntary and community sectors to help develop opportunities to steer young people away from violence.

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