"A threat to every family in this city": Sheffield mums come together to make a stand against gang violence
Sheffield anti-gang campaign group Mums United today (May 22) marched through the city in protest at the lack of action being taken against gang culture by those in positions of authority.
The march, which started at Heeley People’s Park and saw protestors make their way to Highfield Adventure Playground, saw dozens turn up to make a stand with banners, coloured smoke and chants led by people with megaphones.
Its aim was highlight the fear that families live in when there is the ‘constant threat’ of their children being exploited by gangs or involved in gun or knife crime.
They called on the council and South Yorkshire Police to crack down on gangs’ presence in Sheffield communities.
Jennifer Dunstan, one of the organisers of the march, said: "As the parent of a nine-year-old boy and an eighteen-year-old girl I am acutely aware of the fact that while it is typically boys within this city who are at risk of criminal gangs grooming them, introducing them to drug abuse and recruiting them to be drug mules in county lines operations, girls can be affected as well.
“This is not just happening in Sharrow or Arbourthorne, but across the whole city. Every single family, every single parent knows that threat.
“Every parent knows the stark reality in Sheffield that when they cannot see their children when they are out to play they can bet their bottom dollar that a gang member will be able to see them and they will make a move.
“Whether our children are going to be members or victims of gangs, the risk is real and that is what we are marching about today.
“Every time we hear another report that somebody has been stabbed or shot our hearts break a little bit more. We know that there is a family of a victim who are hurting, and also the family of the perpetrator.
“Who is going to step up in Sheffield? From which organisation or political party will they be? Who is going to provide the care that the under-18s in this city need?
“We are calling on authorities all over the city – the council, the police, schools, social services. We want ring-fenced funding for children’s services and youth groups, with qualified workers.
“At the moment if a child is excluded from school they might get a session with a social worker if they are lucky. Gang members make them feel like they are the only people who care for them, that they are their friends. That they know better for them than their families or their teachers."
Dr Shahd Salha, another organiser, added: “We are here because of our responsibilities as mothers. We want our children to grow up in a clean environment.
"We are here to make politicians and schools aware that they are responsible.
"We have to change the politics of the community, of the government and of the police if we want to see change.”
At the end of the march, the protesters slammed Sheffield MPs and the Police and Crime Commissioner for declining to attend the protest. They said all were invited.
Jennifer said: “Where are our MPs? Where is the Commissioner? Where are South Yorkshire Police? We asked them all — they all said they couldn’t come. Well shame on you!”