A leading figure in a high-profile charity set up to counter knife crime in Croydon has repeated claims that their organisation has been “unsupported” by the council.
Monique Ribeiro is the mother of Eliza Ribeiro, who founded Lives Not Knives 12 years ago, shortly after a friend had lost their life following a knife attack.
LNK is now an established youth work organisation, dealing with a broad range of young people and local businesses – forging the connection between young people and prospective employers. “The charity aims to assist young people by developing their skills, capacities and capabilities to enable them to participate in society as independent, mature and responsible individuals,” they say.
But they do so without any funding from Croydon Council.
And when a government funding initiative was announced last year, according to Monique Ribeiro, no one from the Town Hall contacted LNK for input to their bid to the Communities department. Nearly £10million was allocated in grants, including to 10 schemes around the capital. But not a penny was given to Croydon.
Two more teens were killed in stabbings at the weekend, prompting the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to hold meetings today with seven police commissioners from around the country to discuss measures to reduce the scourge of rising knife crime.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has said there is “obviously” a link between violent crime and falling police numbers, while the Prime Minister, Theresa May – who began to roll-out police cuts when she was in charge of the Home Office – insists there is “no direct correlation”.
In total, 10 teenagers have been killed in knife attacks in the first two months of 2019; half of the victims were in London.
Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, chairs the all-party parliamentary group on knife crime. She has called for a public health approach to resolving the “epidemic” of stabbings. According to sources at Westminster, Jones was not approached by Croydon Council when they were preparing their grant application for the anti-knife crime fund.
In a social media post following Croydon Council’s grant rejection, Monique Ribeiro said, “If only our local authority would work with the community to combat knife crime.
“I am always available to discuss and help with funding applications and bid-writing, most especially for the sake of saving young people’s lives. What a shame that the good work of many young people and organisations in Croydon, that has taken years to develop, is unsupported by the local authority. Leaving small organisations doing tremendous grassroots work, struggling.”
Many of the grants to London anti-knife crime schemes made by the Communities department were for around £500,000.
“This amount of funding could have been used to keep young, vulnerable children safe from youth crime, prepared young people for a brighter future, kept young people in education or employment, trained youth workers and kept youth workers in employment,” Ribeiro said.
“Most importantly, [it could have] prevented more young people from dying on our streets.”
Ribeiro claimed that the council’s failure to consult organisations such as LNK revealed “a lack of commitment to the community and disrespect to all the organisations that are working tirelessly to resolve an increased problem for our young people”.
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