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Bright Start Summer Football 2017 in Merton

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Unique Talent are running bright start for the second year (2017) – A simple but effective approach to preventing and helping young people stay away from gangs, crime and anti-social behavior.

We are running football sessions along-side workshops/1:1’s covering gangs, crime, prison, bullying etc. All young people get 1:1 mentoring and groups talks whilst they do what they love best – football sessions

Big thank you to Wimbledon Foundation for funding and supporting this project.

You can find us every Monday at Phipps Bridge playing area/fields from 5-9 pm.

Call for more information: 07729771372 info@uniquetalent.org.uk

WP_20170724_19_57_11_ProWP_20170724_19_58_25_ProWP_20170724_19_57_06_ProBright start sportsfest

Why do young people join gangs and get involved with negative behavior

Why do young people join gangs and get involved with negative activity?

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Unique Talent Evaluation

What keeps young people (under 18) engaged and away from crime & anti social behaviour?

In December 2016 Unique Talent CIC conducted an evaluation consulting with over 40 young people from Pollards Hill Youth Club (Merton) to find out the following. Each young person was taken through a series of questions with a Unique Talent coach to ensure they fully understood the questions being asked to get detailed responses.

We did this by asking some of the following questions:

  • Why do you think young people (YP) get involved with anti social behaviour, crime and gangs?
  • What do you think could be done to deter people away from getting involved with the things in point 1
  • What has helped you personally to stay out of trouble and make positive decisions
  • What support and activities would you expect or would help you from organizations like Unique Talent and Pollards Hill Youth Club
  • What sort of barriers do you face in trying to stay positive and keeping away from negativity?

The Results:

  • Common themes:
    1. All responses indicated a link to the environment and location of where people ‘hang out’. Gangs are appealing to young men and women (peer influence) and this is a big influence to why people get involved with gangs, or hang out is groups and partake in anti-social behaviour. In London this can come down to postcode, estates, schools and community. Another key theme which emerged was the need for belonging to a secure group, which is sometimes misconstrued or known as gangs. There was some indication of the lack of guidance of senior people in a young person’s life. Other key issue raised by the young people was a lack of opportunity and support i.e. jobs, peer support, lack of family support and places to go. Young people seem to have a lack of knowledge about the consequences, understanding about what they are getting involved with. Peer pressure seems to have a bigger influence than that coming from the home in most cases Young people get involved with little knowledge and find it hard to get out! There is a huge need for all young people to have positive people in their life who are ‘street wise’, able to sympathise/empathise and provide ongoing accountability and guidance, (mentoring or coaching) – this needs to be consistent.


Comments that summarise all responses:

“Because people are constantly on the streets”

“The environment”

“They have nowhere to go”

“People do not feel wanted so they join gangs/groups to feel secure”

“Not enough opportunities and guidance”

“Rejection and being frowned upon by society”

“No jobs and nothing exciting to do that is cool”

“Young people feel unheard and neglected”

“The streets provide quick money”

“Some kids are just naughty”

“Peer pressure”

  • Common themes:
    1. There is a massive need for youth provision like Pollard Hill Youth Club and safe places to attend such as youth zones, clubs and social groups. As highlighted in point 1 above the pressure from peers seems to override that coming from parents. This links to comments suggesting the need for positive role models, people young people can relate to (positive) and people who will consistently guide and mentor YP. We need youth clubs like Pollards Hill to stay open, a flagship run youth provision offering holistic support, challenging young people, guided them, mentoring, educating, and providing consistent support. Deterring young people away from gangs is difficult because many people and friends become victims to serious youth violence and face high pride levels, many young people struggle to let things go or forgive, especially when a friend or brother had died to a rival. There is a need to re-education, bring people together to understand the true long term consequences of actions. There is a need to for role models, incentives and something to look forward or to work hard for. The young people have made it very clear that there is a need for activity’s, provision, opportunities and something to do.

Comments that summarise all responses:

“We need youth clubs like Pollards Hill to stay open”

“Young people need to come together for mediation”

“Keep young people busy and off the streets through a variety of activities which YP enjoy”

“Provide support – listen to people and take their ideas into consideration”

“Awareness via posters, talks, work with police and prisons”

“More community ambassadors like Carol Hemans”


  • Common themes:
    1. All responses indicated a link to having some form of positive person or group to speak with in an individual’s life. The responses here were very similar to question 2 and shows that simple provisions can help young people stay out of trouble. This is what has worked:
      1. Youth Club
      2. Positive friends
      3. Somewhere to go when parents are not home
      4. Firm upbringing
      5. Advice from Carol (Youth Centre leader)
      6. Keeping busy in activities
      7. Family support
      8. Good school support
      9. Having the will power to do my own thing
      10. Sporting activities – football being key!
      11. Staying away from negative people
      12. Understanding the consequences of actions
      13. Knowledge of careers and being inspired for the future

A key question here is; how do we provide all the above for those who are disengaged and far away from the help at hand?

Response: Getting people to engage in a safe and secure environment like Pollards Hill Youth Club, providing tailored holistic support – consistently. Providing people with experienced mentors, who will be able to engage young people for long periods to empower, motivate and provide positive guidance and support. This is nothing new but I think the key words here are ‘consistency & experienced’.

  • Common themes:
    1. Many young people have changed their lives around and have done so because of activities they like to get involved with. There is a clear need for incentives and for young people to be rewarded to consistent good behaviour. Young people highlighted a clear need for additional support seen in the list below:
      1. More residential – rewards for good behaviour
      2. Youth club parties
      3. More music studio times
      4. Trips i.e. Theme parks, park, Zoo etc.
      5. Counselling sessions
      6. Themed workshops
      7. Opportunities such as jobs, interviews volunteering etc
      8. Talks from ex-prisoners, gang’s members, victims etc
      9. Consultancy space where young people can address their personal problems confidential
      10. Consequences – workshops
      11. Networking sessions for young people and lessons on how to engage with professionals and peers – power of networking
      12. Youth Clubs got Talent – talent theme show
      13. Mentors
      14. Trips to other communities, countries to meet new people and see new things – broaden experience
  • Common Themes:
    1. The responses here link closely with point 1. Young people highlighted a barred of negative peers, lack of knowledge or guidance, the need for quick money and having to report crime. The lack of youth provision was a big miss and barrier because they gain reduced support and find themselves with nothing to do. A lack of self confidence and self pride to seek support. Pressure from older people to do wrong. Having to impress people. A lack of knowledge and understand of actions. Pressure to support family and community members. Ego and reputation. Not having anyone to fight your corners or stand up for what is right.