Hope, opportunityÂ and community
Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed
Leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats
Where has our community spirit gone?
Community was a big part of growing up here. Whenever one of us in the community was in trouble, the whole community got together to figure it out. Whenever I stepped out of line as a child, the community reeled me back in.
Community gave me a reason to better myself growing up.
That old style of community has changed but its importance has not. Fantastic local initiatives like De Hood and the late Brendan Ingle's gym picked up the slack as communities in the old sense of the word disappeared.
In the case of De Hood, it's a group of youngsters, supported by some key adult role models, looking out for each other and bettering themselves. Why would someone risk losing their new family by doing something stupid? And it's worked. Crime in the area decreased 60%!
I've also seen this as a youth worker. A lot of youngsters seem to think there's no reason to look after themselves and respect others. It's only when they begin to see hope and opportunities for a better life that they begin to change their ways.
I think hope, opportunity and community need to be at the centre of the discussion about knife crime.
As violent crimes now seem to happen daily, we are all quite rightly worried about the spread of weapons and violence in our city. But knife crime isn't just about knives, it's about a way of life. We need to give our youngsters a reason to look after themselves and a reason to belong,Â we need to start talking about hope, opportunities and community.
My challenge to Sheffield City Council is to create an environment where community groups like De Hood can flourish. Communities know what's best for their area and they are best placed to deal with any issues which might arise. Communities may have changed, but their importance has not,Â we need them now more than ever.