Young people across the county were invited to share their ideas on a range of subjects including community safety at an event hosted by the Kent and Medway Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).
The event was held at the Ashford International Hotel on Tuesday 28 February 2023 and arranged in conjunction with the Hope Collective, an organisation formed in partnership with the Damilola Taylor Trust and a range of other voluntary organisations.
More than 170 people aged between 14 and 24, from schools, colleges and youth groups, attended the hotel where they discussed ideas and explored innovative solutions in relation to some of the challenges they face in society. Topics covered mental and physical health, poverty, inequality, racism and community safety.
During the debates there was a proposal put forward for an educational programme for primary aged students that addresses racism and divisions within communities in Kent.
Another idea was to launch a dedicated website especially for young people who have been or continue to be affected by violence.
Former Chelsea football player, Paul Canoville, carried out a meet and greet at the event and gave out signed copies of his book to all those who attended. Commando Chef Mike Beaton MBE also attended and is used to travelling up and down the country speaking to young people about careers, health, and why knives are for the kitchen not for the streets. Also, students from Homewood School in Tenterden performed a script that had been written about the consequences of knife crime.
These events called Hope Hacks are not exclusive to Kent, they continue to be held all over the country and the ideas will be published in a national report aimed at a fairer society through the eyes of young people. All the ideas put forward in Ashford will however help Kent Police and other organisations to shape the work being done to protect people. It gives the younger generation a voice and helps to ensure a safe future for them.
The VRU is a partnership between Kent Police, local councils, health service providers and other key agencies that aims to address the causes of violent crime and support those involved and affected by it.
Lara Connor, Chief Inspector within the VRU at Kent Police, said:
‘This was a fantastic opportunity for us to engage with young people and hear their ideas and thoughts on what matters to them. They had the opportunity to engage in some educational workshops and meet inspirational people. It is important as a partnership that we do all we can to help reduce violent crime, listen to young people and get them involved in our plans to reduce crime and keep people safe.’