A meeting was organised and took place on 28 September 2pm at Edmonton Green Art Zone by Colin Lee-Own the founder of We Love Edmonton and Sister Levi Barnard. The main reason for organising this meeting was organise the community around the issue of knife crime in our community.
Since January 2019, the Edmonton community has been experiencing the horrific spate of knife crimes losing our residents to these crimes all over again similarly to 2008 where five young people lost their lives to knife crimes.
On Sunday 15 September Colin went jogging and was stopped by two officers and informed that he couldn’t continue the route that he usually takes due to a murder that took place. As an Edmonton resident, he was very upset to be told this as he was still coming to terms with several knife crimes that had already taken place in the area since the start of the year.
Later during the day, Colin found out that it was Julio Gomes, a young man that he knew very well, that was murdered which caused him to become distress. Julio worked as a market trader in Edmonton Green and was a quiet, polite and friendly young man. He was liked by many in different parts of Edmonton and most were very distressed and traumatised to learn of his murder.
Julio earned far below the minimum wage, most of which he used to take care of his mother, and therefore had little to no disposable income. The community came together to raise funds for his funeral arrangements. The Edmonton Community came together and provided support to Julio Gomes’ relatives who didn’t live in London so, therefore, needed a link from the Edmonton community to support them while they deal with the loss of their son and brother.
The meeting organised by Colin and Sister Levi Barnard on the 28 September was the first meeting to be held in Edmonton Green where parents, young people, community representatives and our local councillor had the opportunity to come together to discuss pressing issues that they felt were a priority and wasn’t addressed by Enfield Council administration or the Mayor of London.
Those who attended came from a diverse background and participated in our group discussion workshops which Sister Levi organised and led. Sister Levi felt that because we had a diverse set of attendees, different age groups and gender attending the meeting, a group discussion workshop would give
We Love Edmonton an opportunity to learn their concerns. This would then enable us to set out a list of actions that needs to be addressed urgently to improve the safety and quality of life for young people living in the area.
One shared concern is the lack of engagement of youth services, education and apprenticeship providers. There seems to be a monolithic top-down approach by Enfield Council in tackling knife crime and socioeconomic deprivation in Edmonton. Grassroots community is excluded from the decision making process on the needs of their community.
Over the last 25 years, Edmonton has been neglected by those in power to improve the lives and safety of local people living and working in in the area. There is a lack of inward investing to provide support for young people to gain vital skills and enable them to compete for jobs in high value apprenticeships and gain access to decent social housing. Many have been on the council waiting list for many years.
The population of Edmonton Green Ward has increased by 8.3% since the 2011 Census. This is higher than the average increase across the borough. It as in turn put a significant strain on serving the needs of Edmonton residents due to a lack of affordable housing and having to live in private rented accommodation which is substandard and expensive for low and no income earners.
Many of the residents’ socioeconomic wellbeing is highly affected.
Lack of Engagement with Grassroots Communities.
There is lack of engagement with grassroots communities leaving residents feeling marginalised. They feel they have no say in the needs of their community. Youth Services, education providers, and voluntary organisations located in Edmonton haven’t a good track record engaging with the local ethnic minorities, especially within the black community, who have suffered the full force of austerity budget cuts and have been the main victims of knife crimes. Black young people are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder experiencing stubbornly high youth unemployment and premature school exclusions, mental health illness, homelessness and overrepresentation in the Enfield Youth Offending Team.
There are no platforms for grassroots community organisations to meet Enfield Council representatives or the Greater London Authority whose remit is to tackle the growing inequality. No means exist to discuss the community’s concerns and needs.
During the 1990s recession, there were high levels of unemployment and social deprivation. However, there were local government agencies like North London Training and Enterprise Council and London Skills Funding Agency whose responsibilities were to research the skills of local business’ needs, raise the education attainment for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, tackle inequality and long term youth unemployment and social cohesion for those disadvantaged community groups who have been marginalised from mainstream provision.
Grassroots organisations were giving a platform to attend regular meetings with representatives from the North London TECH and Learning Skills Council on a monthly basis to discuss the needs of the Edmonton community and develop a strategy to tackle inequality, alongside social and economic deprivation.
However, the North London TECH and the Learning Skills Funding Agency were disbanded and the local needs are now being centralised by government agencies, for example, the Education Skills Funding Agency and Greater London Authority. They have now taken over the role in making decisions for the social and economic and education and training needs of the Edmonton community. However, little engagement is made with the local community on the front line, feeling the full force of austerity budget cuts and left without adequate support that they urgently need to lift them out of the severe poverty they are experiencing.
The level of deprivation in Edmonton has escalated; it is the 10th most deprived borough in London.
Another concern of Edmonton residents is that the Enfield Council £1.5 billion project to regenerate Meridian Waters to build new houses, and infrastructure projects have not been of any significant benefit to residents living in upper and lower Edmonton. Young people are not benefiting from the injection of funds into the area. They are unclear how Meridian Waters will improve their current lack of affordable housing and employment opportunities. Residents in upper and lower Edmonton also feel that those managing the Meridian Waters project have not engaged with them or made them feel they are part of this £1.5 billion regeneration project to improve their quality of life.
Lack Of Employment Opportunities
42% of adults aged 16-64 in Edmonton are not in paid work, compared to 33% in the rest of Enfield and 31% in the rest of London. 16% of the working age population in Edmonton are either unemployed (7%) or wanting to work but not currently seeking employment (9%). This is also slightly higher than the rest of Enfield (14%) and the rest of London (12%).
Lack of High-Value Apprenticeships
The supply of apprenticeships falls short of demand and more apprenticeships in the borough (over 7 in 10) are at level 2 (rather than level 3) than elsewhere. Strength of local demand suggests that further apprenticeship opportunities would be valued
Young People from The Black Community Needs Have Been Neglected
Young people from the black Caribbean community whose parents came to the UK during the 1950s and 60s to fill the high skill shortages created after the war, worked in the public sector and Edmonton’s then striving manufacturing industry to make Enfield prosperous are now experiencing marginalisation. Their children are lacking the opportunities that their parents had in gaining sustainable employment by filling the skills shortages in the NHS, London Transport, Fords Motors, Thorns and many more industries.
Black Caribbean young men aged 16 to 24 years old living in Edmonton are experiencing more long term unemployment than their white counterparts. Unemployment is three times higher for black young males and there is no direct programme to reduce this gap.
Black Caribbean school exclusion rate is seven times higher than their white counterparts in Enfield. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed urgently. Black young men living in Edmonton are overrepresented in the Enfield Youth offending team.
Colleges Mismatch between supply and demand
There is a mismatch between supply and demand in local FE, with provision exceeding demand in some sectors, while in others – primarily IT, adult social care and health care, business, administration and governance and finance, accountancy and financial services – demand by residents exceeds local supply. Only 26.8% of local employers thought that local training provision met their needs.
What are the Needs?
Edmonton has been identified as the most deprived of the 21 wards in the Borough. In addition, the same analysis estimates that it is within the 10% most deprived wards in London, and among the 10% most deprived in England. History has shown that where communities are highly affected by deprivation, poverty and lack of access to personal and career development, crime is often rampant. In our case, knife crime is a major issue.
Edmonton has the highest youth violence rates in London and has been labeled one of the most dangerous places to live in London.
Edmonton Green had the lowest average (median) household income of the 21 wards in Enfield, as estimated by CACI in 2019. The average household income in the ward is below the median level for the borough as a whole and also lower than the London median. The proportion of households with an income of less than £15,000 was estimated at 31.9% compared to a Borough average of 16.4%. This was the highest proportion of the 21 wards and higher than the London average.
Edmonton Grass Roots Community Feels They Have Been Neglected for the Past 25 Years
Enfield Council government agencies tasked to tackle knife crime and eradicate poverty in Edmonton need to include grassroots communities as a valuable stakeholder and work in collaboration with them to tackle social deprivation and unacceptable youth violence in Edmonton. For the last 25 years, Enfield Council and its youth provision agencies have failed to develop strong ties with the grassroots community who are in the frontline in experiencing socioeconomic deprivation and have become victims of knife crime.
We Love Edmonton community group have shown, with no funding, that it was able to organise the first-ever community-led meeting that took place on 28 September. The meeting saw the successful discussion of the horrific spate of knife crimes in Edmonton, provided support for Julio Gomes’ parents, and progressive group discussion workshops to discuss what is urgently required to tackle knife crime in Edmonton and make the environment a safe place to live.
The attendees openly discussed tackling chronic child poverty in Edmonton and providing a list of actions and milestones that needs to be achieved by working in collaboration with Enfield Council, Greater London Authority, Youth Services, Education and Apprenticeship Providers, local businesses that have a vested interest in implementing their social responsibility mission.
The grassroots communities can no longer accept not having their socioeconomic needs met after waiting 25 years for those in power to make Edmonton a safe environment to live and to eradicate the socioeconomic deprivation that generations have been experiencing and still see no signs of improvement.
We were very disappointed by the lack of attendance for Edmonton, Mayor of London, Greater London Authority, Youth Offending Team, Youth Services and Enfield Voluntary Action representatives. There was no representation though invitations were sent and these stakeholders, therefore, did not meet local residents who have not previously had a platform to discuss; the horrific issue of knife crimes, voice their fears and concerns of high school exclusion rates among black Caribbean pupils, discuss stubbornly high black youth unemployment, representation in the Youth Offending Team and homelessness.
I understand due to the short notice given this might not have been the case for many to attend, however, some form of representation was an absolute necessity. Residents still want their voices to be heard by the powers that be. Therefore, We Love Edmonton will be planning another follow-up meeting in November and we look forward for your attendance and participation.
List of Actions Needed to Be Urgently Addressed by Enfield Council:
(1) Premises: A based for We Love Edmonton to meet and provide support for young people who are feeling traumatise and fear for their safety, Supporting parents who are a concern for their children welfare, providing advocacy between parents and schools to avert high exclusion rate among Caribbean pupils,
(2) Improve the fragmentation of services being delivered to young people living in Edmonton by establishing a platform where representatives from the grassroots community, youth services, knife crime prevention team, education and apprenticeships providers, and local businesses to meet on a monthly basis and discuss tackling the current socioeconomic deprivation that young people and their families are experiencing.
(3) Develop a short and long-term strategy to tackle high youth unemployment especially among black young people where they are three times more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts living in Edmonton.
(4) Provide support for young people living in Edmonton to start their own business by expanding Enfield Enterprise Business Support in Edmonton Green.
(5) Increase the number of apprentices from 1% to 10% by 2022. To achieve this outcome monthly meeting will be held for apprenticeship providers, Southgate & Barnet College, Enfield College, education Skills Funding Agency and local business to meet develop a strategy to achieve the 10% apprentices target by 2022.
We would like to thank Cllr Ergin Erbil for attending the community consultation meeting and assisting us to make this event a huge success.
We Love Edmonton