SOUTH LONDON MAYHEM: Four children stabbed


The crimewave affecting London now has taken an even nastier turn, as newspaper Metro reported yesterday that four children in the south of the city were attacked during a scuffle, with one harmed so badly that witnesses said they were ‘disembowelled’.

A fight was alleged to have broken out between two groups of teenagers, aged 15 to 16 years, at the Landor House, a block of flats on the Elmington estate in Camberwell. Four children were taken to hospital, with one boy suffering serious injuries and is now fighting for his life. The incident occurred on Thursday at around 5:25 pm.


Six of the attackers were arrested by police. Pictures and videos from the scene show police officers huddled around the injured, desperately administering first aid, as they awaited the arrival of an ambulance crew, Metro reported.

One teenager was heard to shout ‘help!’ as he was ambushed. Witnesses to the disorder reported seeing one youth lying on the ground with his intestines spilling out of his torso. Others described the scene of the fight, saying that it was ‘bloodied clothing, trainers and medical equipment’. Locals believed the teenagers were from outside the estate. One witness told Metro: “Ten minutes before the stabbing I saw a whole heap of youths run down… (towards the crime scene)”. Metropolitan police sources gave an update on the conditions of the victims, stating: “One remains critical, one is in a serious but stable condition and the remaining two did not suffer serious injuries.”

‘Then 10 minutes later I heard people shouting and bawling out the back there. When I looked round the back there, I saw the youth come running from the block.’

‘He came to the corner and dropped. He was holding his belly and all of his intestines were falling on the ground.”

Local police superintendent Annmarie Cowley told Metro: “This incident is in its very early stages and at present we cannot speculate on what the nature of it may be. What we can say for certain is if there needed to be an example of the utter senselessness of knife crime, then this is it.

‘Four males are in hospital, and at this stage we cannot say how serious their injuries are. It is beyond comprehension.”

Police have increased their presence around the Elmington estate and surrounding areas. Legislation has been invoked to grant officers powers to deter further trouble overnight, in the likelihood of revenge attacks from associates of the victims.


Sherrie Bachell/Facebook

Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc.

“Four children stabbed in south London with one boy being ‘disembowelled’ ” – Richard Hartley-Parkinson, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (17 August 2018)


“Sears Street, Camberwell” – Nick, Flickr (15 February 2009)



EXCEL CAREERS FAIR: Arrives at Newham’s ExCel centre

London – VIJAY SHAH via TOM HORTON and Newham Recorder

The UK’s largest careers fair has made its way to the ExCel centre in Newham, east London this weekend, attracting around 30,000 visitors to the Custom House area in search of new and exciting employment opportunities, local newspaper the Newham Recorder reported on Thursday.


Skills London 2017 is geared towards young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and is hosted by London First and Prospects, and is supported by the office of the Mayor of London and the National Careers Service. The event will feature a selection of interactive activities and inspirational careers options for youngsters looking for their future career choice or to enter a new line of work.

The event is open to students, teachers, career advisors and jobseekers, with an astonishing 40,000 jobs on offer from 200 exhibitors from the fields of education, leading employers, training courses and job experts. Companies such as Google, Heathrow Airport and the supermarket chain Tesco and others will be on hand to offer careers advice and guidance.

Skills London is now in its tenth year and has been lauded for its high levels of interactivity and engagement with its target audience in a fun and inspiring atmosphere. Speaking to the Recorder on the fair, Jasmine Whitbread, the chief executive of London First, said: “London’s leading employers are stepping up to help young people make the most of their potential.”

The staging of the event in one of London’s lowest ranking areas for youth employment is also a sign of the recovery of the British economy after the 2008 financial crash which saw young people bear the brunt of job losses and a decline in opportunities.

Skills London 2017 takes place over 24-25 November from 9.30am to 4.00pm. Entry is free.


Newham Recorder, Facebook, Facebook Inc.

“UK’s largest careers fair expected to bring 30,000 to the ExCel over the next two days” – Tom Horton, Newham Recorder/Archant (23 November 2017)

“Skills London 2017 – ExCeL London 24 & 25 November 2017” – skills London 2017/Skills London

“About”- skills London 2017/Skills London


“Youth on the Move – Skills London” – DG EMPL, Flickr (22 November 2014)


HARROW YOUTH ELECTIONS 2016: Young people make themselves heard


VIJAY SHAH via Harrow Times

Youngsters in the Harrow borough in north-west Greater London will have a chance to make their voices heard in the forthcoming elections for the Harrow Youth Parliament next week and decide the next direction for their community and borough’s youth services, local paper the Harrow Times reports today.

The Youth Parliament, which is the largest and most active of any of Greater London’s 32 boroughs, has called on young Harrovians to go out and vote in the 2016 elections, enabling them to challenge decisions made by councillors, get involved in important decisions affecting them and their local communities and express their opinions and concerns to decision-makers.

Polls are open from February 8-12 and thousands of Harrow’s young people are expected to cast votes for Youth Parliament representatives to speak for them on the local government stage. The elections are open to Harrow residents aged 11-18 years only. Seventy seats in the Parliament are to be filled, along with two seats for the borough in the National Youth Parliament, the Harrow Times reports.

Annual Sitting 2009
Annual Sitting 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Current chairperson of the Harrow Youth Parliament (HYP), Dina Khatum said to the Times recently: “Harrow Youth Parliament’s extensive local and national involvement has played an active role in getting young people’s voices heard.

“We try, both with our external activities and internal projects, to do as much as we can to improve the lives of Harrow for young people by representing their views to decision makers.”

The HYP came into existence in 2004, and in its nearly twelve years of operations have helped influence and shape many key regulations regarding Harrow Council‘s provisions for young residents, as well as speaking on behalf of teenagers across the nation.

Lists of candidates contesting the 2016 HYP elections are being put on public view in the borough’s youth centres, schools and sixth-form colleges for voters to choose the Members of Parliament they will be backing.

The elections are supported by Harrow Council’s Electoral Services and organised by the borough’s Youth Development Team.

Youth Parliaments are an important means of getting youth interested in politics. They help give future decision makers a taste of the democratic process and a chance to represent young people in key decisions including the annual debate at the House of Commons. They have been key in helping many of their young members a foothold into local and national politics.

Last year more then 12,000 ballots were cast in the Harrow borough– one of the highest turnouts in London.

The adult Harrow councillor in charge of the portfolio for young people and children’s services, Simon Brown, commented: “By taking part in the youth elections you can help shape the future of young people.

“Challenge us, share your views and speak up on issues that matter to you.

“I encourage you all to vote in this year’s election and look forward to working closely with new members of our fantastic Harrow Youth Parliament.”

In 2015, the HYP has been active in running various projects, including improving relations between schools, between young people and the police, and setting up activities during school and college holiday periods. The Parliament also won a contract with MOPAC in their police and youth community work.

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
Harrow Times, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
“Chance for young people to have their say in the 2016 youth elections next week” – Beth Cherryman, Harrow Times/Newsquest (London) Ltd/Gannett (6 February 2016)
“File:MYPs at the University of Kent.jpg” – UK Youth Parliament & Pretzels, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (28 October 2009)

JOURNALISM APPRENTICESHIP: Editors, NCTJ to develop higher on-the-job journalist training

Britain‘s National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) reports that it is currently working with journalism employers from several newspapers and TV channels to develop a programme of higher apprenticeships for journalists to acquire news-writing skills on the job. Their plans were formally announced in a news release published on the council’s website this past Thursday (23 October 2014). The NCTJ along with selected employers had recently pitched their idea of a higher apprenticeship to the British government. Ministers there have now given the new qualification system the green light of approval in their efforts to tackle rising youth unemployment in the country.

A group of journalism representatives from a variety of national and regional media organisations including Archant, the BBC; BSkyB; i; The IndependentIndependent on SundayJohnston Press; the KM GroupLondon Evening Standard; the Mark Allen Group; Newsquest; MNA Media and the Telegraph Media Group, jointly submitted an application to Whitehall which has been approved as part of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition‘s ‘phase three’ trailblazer apprenticeship scheme to help unemployed and undecided youngsters obtain valuable skills that will prepare them for future careers in the media. Traditionally, British journalists were taken on as junior reporters after completing their formal education. They received on-the-job training from senior news workers and editors, but in the past fifteen years an increasing emphasis by the U.K. jobs market on university qualifications universally has seen the journalism apprenticeships of several decades ago become almost obsolete. Newer cohorts of media hopefuls tend to be university graduates who pick up training via often unpaid or expenses only work experience. Media organisations have lately been criticised for not being inclusive enough in their intake of new employees and several major news providers have reinstated internships and apprentice training courses to attract new recruits from less well-represented sections of society.

The trailblazer scheme aims to give employers more say and freedom to develop apprenticeship standards in their industry which will help deliver the practical skills needed by vocational trainees for a particular business sector.

The new journalism apprenticeship was announced the day Skills Minister Nick Boles visited the offices of international media outlet Sky, home of Sky News and Sky Television, to meet with Bella Vuillermoz, director of their training school, the Sky Academy, to discuss training opportunities for young and new journalists moving into the career away from the university pathway favoured by most recruiters in the current media environment. Boles also conversed with Nicola Hart, Sky’s head of future talent; Andy Cairns, its executive editor, and Laurie Tucker, head of training at Sky Sports News; and Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, who is co-ordinating the industry’s apprenticeship trailblazer projects.

In a discussion on the government’s trailblazer scheme and its wider changes to the national apprenticeship and employment programme, the NCTJ chief executive lauded the improvements to the initiative, saying that the old system had now been made more streamlined and simplified and that she was encouraged to see  greater responsibility and autonomy allocated to employers and the NCTJ in attracting more learners to the UK media industry’s training courses. She did however criticise the ongoing reliance on jargon within the programme, which may put off potential apprentices from signing up. Meanwhile, Sky’s head of training apparently joked that at a recent meeting he had struggled with the shorthand outline for ‘synoptic assessment’. Boles also had the opportunity to meet Britain’s first journalism apprentice undergoing training thanks to the trailblazer scheme, James Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick is now interning at Sky Sports News and is one of 18 apprentices on the second NCTJ apprenticeship day release course at Lambeth College in south London. James will experience all aspects of the Sky Sports News operation, starting with the digital media team, with an aim to give him and his fellow apprentices a well-rounded experience of the day-to-day life as a Sky journalist.

The higher apprenticeship by the NCTJ is following in the path of an existing standard for junior apprenticeships in journalism set up by the council in league with employers. This standard, although complete, will not come into force in England until 2015. It will be an update of the current apprenticeship qualification offered by the NCTJ to trainee reporters who wish to forego the usual graduation route. The proposed senior journalist apprenticeship will also now be written to an industry standard to be decided by the NCTJ with consultations from the media industry expected to commence  in the New Year.

Chairman of the journalism apprenticeship group, David Rowell said: “This is an exciting new development in our apprenticeship training scheme and will provide an opportunity for school leavers to progress to more senior roles.

Skills minister Nick Boles said: “I congratulate the journalism employers for the key role they are playing in developing new top-quality apprenticeships. Through the trailblazers initiative companies, in collaboration with their industry partners, will give people the skills they need to thrive and our businesses need to compete.

The full guidance document for the British government’s phase three of the trailblazer scheme for apprentices can be viewed here.

Several media organisations in the United Kingdom already run their own training programmes and apprenticeships for students, including the BBC, Sky and ITV, offering training with actual journalists in fields such as broadcasting, public relations, digital/new media and radio. The BBC’s Academy of Journalism attracts thousands of applications from would-be trainees every year, with only a small number successfully securing places. The NCTJ, which is the official body for journalism training in the U.K., offers its own qualifications and accreditations which are highly respected and sought after by journalism employers. The council currently offers a Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Journalism enabling students to combine learning at sixth-form college or further education institutions with on-the-job training. It has been supported by media industry leaders for opening doors to a competitive industry for local young people as well as those who come from ethnic minority backgrounds.

“Useful Sites” – Vijay Shah, The Half-Eaten Mind
“Government accepts proposal to develop higher-level journalism apprenticeship” – National Council for the Training of Journalists (23 October 2014)
“Apprenticeships” – National Council for the Training of Journalists
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YOUNGROOTS: Grant programme helps youngsters discover heritage

A new grant programme has been set up in the United Kingdom to help British youngsters understand their heritage and express it through community service and media.

Shout Out UK, an alternative youth publication, reported today that the Heritage Lottery Fund is running the first stages of a special granting programme, the #YoungRoots Grant Programme, which gifts up to £50,000 in funds to individual young people and youth organisations to help discover and express their heritage.

Youth (Photo credit: Chris JL)

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is a funding arm of Britain’s National Lottery organisation. Founded in 1993, HLF aims to sustain and transform a wide range of heritage projects in the United Kingdom via innovative investment in projects which will have a lasting impact on ordinary people and places. The fund has already distributed £6 billion in lottery funds to over 36,500 projects since 1994.

This past Monday 7th April, the HLF took over Cambridge‘s Fitzwilliam Museum to official roadshow the #Youngroots programme with many young people in attendance and a host of entertaining shows.

The museum played host to a circus performance by the La Bonche Family, speeches from the Olympic medallist Robbie Grabarz and SBTV’s Aaron Roach Bridgeman delivering a specially created spoken word piece to the audience. A host of projects were also selected to be publicised from the thousands of young people between the ages of 11 and 25 who have already benefitted from the programme in using the awards to explore the UK’s rich heritage.

A section of the #Youngroots events was dedicated to showing three films on the subject of heritage, and which were produced by youths. These films are also being promoted in tandem on the Heritage Lottery Twitter account to spread the programme’s message.

One attendee at the Cambridge event, Louis John, the founder of an entertainments media outlet, said to Shoutout UKHeritage plays an important part of our lives and how we see the world. Its great to see so many young people getting excited about exploring theirs, I feel inspired

The Young Roots programme – grants between £10,000 and £50,000
  • provides new opportunities for young people aged 11 to 25 to learn about heritage;
  • allows young people to lead and take part in creative and engaging activities;
  • develops partnerships between youth organisations and heritage organisations; and
  • creates opportunities to celebrate young people’s achievements in the project and share their learning with the wider community.

(reproduced from the report on Shoutout UK website)

The programme will not only open up a new avenue to young people on journeys of self-discovery but also inspire a new generation of filmmakers to learn about their surroundings and origins without being restricted by not having enough money to start up ideas. #Youngroots will also help shatter popular misconceptions about British teens and young adults as being careless and possessing no interest in community environments and history.


HEM News Agency, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter LINK
Shout Out UK, Twitter LINK
“About us” – Heritage Lottery Fund LINK
“Youth” – Chris JL, Flickr (26 February 2011) LINK
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PRINCE’S TRUST: Helping in the war against east London’s youth unemployment

The Prince’s Trust, a charity with royal patronage that helps disadvantaged young people, has recently held an event near east London to help get young jobseekers a foothold into the world of employment this past week.

The “What’s Stopping You?” event was held by the Prince’s Trust at its head office in central London and saw young people from all over east London converge to learn about effective jobhunting and support in building their confidence. The event was sponsored by Barclays bank, which has regular callouts for graduates and apprentices from the east London area, which covers boroughs such as Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets. These boroughs have some of the highest rates of youth and general unemployment in the country.

(c) West Midlands Police/Flickr

The event offered a special Prince’s Trust Team programme running for twelve weeks. One graduate from nearby Tower Hamlets, who had sent out hundreds of applications but failed to secure a single interview, found the programme was exactly what she needed. In an interview with the Newham Recorder local paper, she commended the event for helping councillors and other decision-makers get to grips with the barriers facing young people seeking work. The Prince’s Trust Team programme teaches valuable skills in CV writing, interview techniques, work presentation and other means to search for a life-changing career. 

Another member of the programme had been unemployed for three years after leaving school at the age of sixteen. She has lost all confidence in herself and was fast shedding all her hopes for the future. Thanks to the Prince’s Trust, she is now on course to starting a university course in medicine and hopes to become a doctor.

Dermot Finch, a director with the Prince’s Trust, echoed concerns that the rising tide of youth unemployment is damaging the hopes and aspirations of a whole generation, as the British job economy licks its wounds from the impact of a triple-dip recession following the infamous credit crunch of 2008. He noted that it was a particular problem for east Londoners who have left school, college or university recently and that young people need all the support they can find to source a job. Meanwhile, Tower Hamlets councillor Shafiqul Haque, the cabinet member in Tower Hamlets for jobs and skills, added that Tower Hamlets council was committed to helping young people fulfill their potential through finding work or professional opportunities such as self-starting a business. The councillor also commended the Prince’s Trust event for highlighting the issues of youth joblessness so that councils and charities can work together to reverse the trend. 

The Prince’s Trust is a charity set up by HRH Prince Charles of the United Kingdom. It offers practical and financial support to disadvantaged young people, giving them the confidence and key skills needed to help them find gainful employment. Their services are primarily aimed at 13-30 year olds who have been in care, are long-term unemployed, been excluded from school or who have been in trouble with the police. Since 1976, the Trust has helped over  750,000 young people, with an extra 100 helped every day. The charity offers events and trips out for its users, as well as engagement activities, progression support and peer mentoring. It helps young people gain qualifications and offers programmes designed by and for young people. The charity relies heavily on donations from the public and benefactors.

More than one in four young people in Newham are struggling to find a job – a total of 27 per cent – while in Tower Hamlets 21 per cent are struggling, according to the Office for National Statistics as cited by the Newham Recorder report today. The Prince’s Trust quotes figures on their website thataround one in five young people in the UK are not in work, education or training. Youth unemployment costs the UK economy £10 million a day in lost productivity, while youth crime costs £1 billion every year“. Youth unemployment has been exacerbated by the recession and government austerity cuts and young people have borne the brunt of massive job cuts and layoffs in the private sector.

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Newham Recorder on Twitter LINK
“Prince’s Trust event tackles youth unemployment in east London‏” – Adam Barnett, Newham Recorder/Archant Community Media Ltd. (27 December 2013) LINK
“ABOUT THE TRUST” – The Prince’s Trust LINK
“Day 54 – West Midlands Police Princes Trust Partnership” – West Midlands Police/Flickr (22 February 2012) LINK

SHOTTA-DEM ON ROADS: London’s gang violence – a personal commentary


(C) London Metropolitan University
(C) London Metropolitan University

By Vijay Shah

For two years, I was living in a rented terraced house in Forest Gate, east London. It was a tiny property built over an old graveyard and tucked away in the backstreets, and only a short stroll from the border with the neighbouring borough of Waltham Forest. It was a friendly enough area with a deep sense of community, but it was also very rough and ‘ghetto’. As is common with other inner city areas in London, there was a gang problem. While a local youth centre and an active grime music scene helped kept some teenagers busy, others remained loyal to their respective gangs or to the lifestyle of the streets, of the ” ‘hood”. There were tensions between the youths in our part of the ‘Gate’, some of whom I know personally, and gangs from the nearby council estates across the border in Cann Hall. These two sets of enemies hated each other’s guts…and probably still do. If anyone between 14-19 years age from my area was unfortunate enough to wander into Cann Hall gang territory, they would be approached, then asked “Blud, what ends you from?” (where do you come from?). Answering ‘Forest Gate’ would have had painful, if not fatal consequences.

The rivalry was intense to the point that gangsters from Cann Hall would drive stealthily into our area under cover of darkness to carry out shooting attacks or drive-bys on enemy youths. More than once, I would leave early to go work only to find police had sealed off our road and a polite copper would note down my name and address, then let me through. Gunshots would occasionally reverberate through the night air, as I lulled myself into some small false hope that it was a firework or a vehicle backfiring. A local acquaintance was shot at five times while seated in a car, with some bullets passing through his leg. Thankfully he survived, but others do not have luck on their side. Postcode gang wars have claimed many victims, and have spread fear to the point where youths will take detours to avoid passing certain postal zones or neighbourhoods on their way to school, college or work.

London, like any major conurbation anywhere in the world, has its problems with crime and violence. Poverty, lack of jobs and disaffection with life and society, and a breakdown in the traditional family structure has led people to seek solace in gangs, which become their ‘fam’ or family.  According to a 2007 report by the Met Police, some 169 gangs operate within the greater London region. They are responsible for about a fifth of youth crime, and 25% have committed murder. Gangs also corner the market in street robberies, drugs, gun smuggling, credit card fraud and sexual crimes.

Gangs are often attached to certain areas or postcodes and will instigate violence against rivals in other postcode areas (C)
Gangs are often attached to certain areas or postcodes and will instigate violence against rivals in other postcode areas (C)

Over the past few years, more and more teenagers are being killed and injured on London streets and not all of them were necessarily gang members themselves. But like any crime, anyone can find themselves caught up.

A student from Argentina, Steven Grisales, stabbed through the heart in Edmonton, north London after confronting youths who were throwing conkers (chestnut fruits) at him for a laugh.

– Daniel Graham, 18 years, stabbed 24 times in front of passengers on a bus by three members of the GMG (Guns, Murder and Girls) gang. The attack lasted only 45 seconds, but Daniel bled to death as people desperately tried to save him.

– Sylvester Akapalara, a future athletics champion, gunned down by the GMG gang in Peckham, south-east London

– Sofyen Belamouadden – barely still in school, he was set upon in the ticket hall of Victoria Underground station by more than 20 other schoolkids as horrified commuters looked on. They churned themselves into a frenzy, repeatedly stabbing, punching and kicking him as he lay dying on the floor.

– Thusha Kamaleswaran, just 5 years of age, she was playing and skipping about in her uncle’s convenience store in Stockwell, when three gang members chasing  a rival fired a handgun into the shop entrance to kill him. Little Thusha was hit instead, and is now paralysed from a spinal injury and wheelchair-bound, thus ending her dream of becoming a dancer.

Ten years ago when I was attending school, such madness was virtually unknown. Twenty men chasing down one boy was unheard of. Fights were settled with strictly hand-on-hand combat, rather than arming up and using ‘shanks’ and ‘gats’ (knives and guns). After the playground scuffle finished, the belligerents would often shake hands and establish the peace. Children killing other children rarely happened, and murders were the preserve of older people. In 2008, only seven years after I left school, thirty young people lost their lives in gang-related violence. Communities and families are being affected or even ripped apart as youths clash, stab and shoot to show loyalty to their gangs, to settle scores and to gain street cred among their peers.

The police in London have their means to engage the problem, but many inner-city young people despise them. The ‘feds’ as they are referred to in the local slang, are hated with a passion. The police also do not help matters by being heavy-handed and have alienated young people through such policies as stop-and-searches, which predominantly target young Afro-Caribbean males. They have made attempts to ease the relationship though; through initiatives like school visits and helping former gangsters turn from a life of crime and fear.

Outside of New Scotland Yard, charities and support groups such as Kids’ Company are also helping in the battle. For them it entails encouraging those who otherwise might have been recruitment fodder for gangs to take a different direction in life, by encouraging and developing their talents and helping them in practical matters, like getting a job or applying for accommodation. While some gang members revel in guns and glory, others are there because to them, there is nothing else outside and the gang is the only family they have got. If there is a viable alternative for them, and if society puts aside its prejudice and accepts them, then youths can leave behind gangs and the devastation and hopelessness they bring.

Urban gang violence has many causes and many solutions. Governments and authority figures have mostly taken a one-size-fits-all ‘sticking plaster’ approach to gang disorder, which has not made a real impact. Punitive measures like house raids and frisking teenagers on the street to confiscate their £10 packets of cannabis leaf may tackle visible street crime, but have also alienated inner-city youths from mainstream society, their resentment pushing them still further into the all-too-attractive clutches of street gangs. If decision-makers try to work with young people and understand their worldviews, as my borough Newham’s Youth Parliament have done for many years, then young Londoners can feel part of a bigger thing, somewhere that they have a voice and a place. But solving our issue of gangs and youth crime is not just a mere A-to-B matter. We cannot expect quick-fix solutions and the problem will not completely go away. If we can deal with issues like poverty, deprivation, lack of youth facilities, racism etc etc. then gangs will not be so attractive any more. But in today’s recession-battered and morally broken Britain, things may get worse before they get better.

Thanks to Mohammed Miah for suggesting the subject for today’s article