Last week the issues of youth violence on our streets and in our communities reflected a watershed moment in 30 years of young lives lost and the broader social, cultural economic and political ramifications that continue to blight society as a whole.
Our future King, Prince William visited Moss Side in Manchester to witness projects that are addressing youth violence. Prince William also visited the Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse, formerly the Moss Side Youth Centre, opened by his late grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh. The late Duke of Westminster, former President of the Youth Charter also visited this facility leading up its opening with the Duke of Kent officially opening it – even sporting greats such as the late Sir Bobby Charlton was one of the many Youth Charter Sporting Ambassadors that we brought to the area.
This visit had originally been planned with the Youth Charter in 2008. One wonders if it had gone ahead, where we might be now in all things learned with the spotlight on the area and the resulting impact of royal influence.
The Powerhouse, opened in 2000 reflecting 7 years of the Youth Charter’s work with collaboration, partnership reflected in everything required to prevent the then loss of lives that had been reflective of the first murder in the area of 14-year-old Benji Stanley on 2nd January 1993.
Sport, art, and cultural activity provided the engagement opportunities evidenced and working to engage, equip and empower young people and gang members and those at risk with hope and opportunity. A local effort has become a global movement. However, a movement has almost become an industry, not too dissimilar to third world aid and how it is distributed to the so called disaffected and disadvantaged young people and the communities in which they live.
The Moss Side Royal Visit is a watershed moment with this week seeing 79 lives lost on our streets. Of the most notable and concerning aspect of this ongoing and unacceptable loss of life was the murder of Shawn Seesahai 19-year-old in Wolverhampton. Two 12-year-old children have been arrested for his murder.
During the Prince William’s visit to the Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse, he visited the mural of Jessie James, the 15-year-old schoolboy who was murdered in 2006. To date, no-one has been brought to justice. Jessie’s mother and sister presented a powerful message to the Prince and all present on the need to end the ongoing cycle of violence that blights communities like Moss Side.
We continue to witness an unacceptable loss of life with the resulting impact on the lives that have been taken, those that have taken them and the wider impact on families, communities, and society as a whole.
Persistent discussion, debate and dialogue with projects, programmes and resources continue to be ploughed back into the communities with awards and recognition for outstanding work reflective of the ‘ember’ months as we see the end of 2023.
The Royal visit has again highlighted the need for the Youth Charter’s #Call2Action, a Royal Commission and the resulting recommendations that see collaboration, partnership, and emergency legislative action.