Letters to the Editor
... input from forum participants

A request for help with gangs ... from the United Kingdom

Sept. 2nd

Connections with the United Kingdom

My name is Julie Overend and I work in an all boys school in Burnage, Manchester, England. Most of the boys live in the Moss Side area of Manchester and there has been a serious rise in gang related shootings and negative activity.

It is through this experience, and the funerals of many of the boys with whom I have worked, that a friend and myself registered a company so we could make applications for money to do projects with the youth in our community.

We work with a lot of young people on varying issues i.e. low self esteem, confidence building, conflict resolution etc but there are a number of 'hard core' gang members that need some input. Whilst they are reluctant to accept that there are options and ways forward that don't always result in death they still keep coming back for discussions.

I took a group of boys, through the school in which I work in, to London for the weekend. They became children again, off came the hoods and the constant watching over the shoulder. It really broke my heart that these are the same boys who accept 'their lot in life'.

We use education and the use of it as a passport to better things. We try to show them that there is a life outside of their own 'zones'.

We are currently writing a bid for money to work with this particular client group and as the U.S.A. have implemented many strategies and are working hard to 'reconnect the youths" we would like to tap into your expertise. When we have raised the money we are hoping to visit the U.S.A. and to have a link with an organization that would run a 3 or 4 day workshop sharing the knowledge you have for our boys.

I would appreciate it if you could help us locate an organization so we can begin discussions. I feel that if these boys could see their situation from another angle and maybe with a number of alternatives then, with the help of God, there may be another life path they could follow.

I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully with some ideas or e-mail addresses that I can follow through.

Julie Overend