Delivered to over 200 students from across eight schools, Government Councillors, Local Officials and Police Officers, the 2021 Hope in Tottenham Haringey Youth Summit picks up where 2019 left off.
By Omar Alleyne-Lawler, Communications Manager.
After a year’s absence, the Hope in Tottenham Youth Summit reconvened online for the 2021 edition. Collaborating with Aseptic Studios and Dragon Egg Media, students from eight education centres across the borough created four documentaries for the Summits Panel.
Opening with a challenging discussion on Racial Injustice and Police Brutality, Gladesmore Community School and Greig City Academy used Music, Dance, Poetry and Art to explore their everyday challenges and worries for the future. Shaped by last year’s protests in the wake of George Floyd as well as their own experiences of racial discrimination, the students channelled these learning experiences into stirring questions for those in attendance.
Pitched to a panel of community stateholders, headed by David Lammy MP; the students wanted answers on what is being done about anti-Black racism in our society.
Responses from Lammy, Councillor Ahmet Peray and Dawardin Babu ranged from working proactively in addressing systemic racism, to better representation in public offices and rooting out instances of inter-personal racism.
Mental Health impacts were also put forward and addressed in the second film. Centring the voices of Commerce House and Heartlands High School students, their documentary highlighted the lesser-known effects of the pandemic. Reminding attendees that the pressures they face with upcoming exams have been exacerbated by their limited access to learning materials.
The documentary gave an insight into how precarious living in the borough can be, though it was helpful in showcasing how creative outlets are useful in allowing you cope with stress.
The documentary pushed forward a necessary reminder of the anxieties students face, asking what Mental Healthcare services they can access once they leave school.
Thankfully, Lead Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist at NHS’s Mental Health Trust’s Dr. Ferelyth Watt was present to respond. Reassuring students that Mental Healthcare provisions are becoming more accessible to young adults, their concerns serve as a reminder to protect this vital service. It was a promising call to action echoed by the longstanding representative, Catherine West MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.
In the toughest of the four videos, CONEL and Park View’s documentary returned to the inescapable topic of Serious Youth Violence. Focusing on the cultural aspects which lead to crime, CONEL and Park View reiterated the need to tackle poverty if we are to tackle the main motivator for serious crime.
Whilst violent crime is an everyday threat to so many young people in the borough, the call to end the violence was unanimous. In one clip, students mixed their familiarity of violent crime with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet thanks to the help of HiT’s Eleanor Henderson.
Yet it is the end of the documentary which will sit with people. In a closing remark, one student pleads for action, begging police to assist where possible to prevent further bloodshed.
It was a call amplified by Junior Smart OBE, leader of the SOS Project. Using his panel time to emphasise that the motivations and causes for crime must be addressed, he acknowledged that fear-based deterrents are not the answer. “You could make carrying knife carry a 100-year sentence, but it won’t stop someone who thinks they need a knife to carry it. We need to focus on why.”
The escalation of serious youth violence has paused during lockdown, though CS Treena Fleming, former Borough Commander Victor Olisa and Former Chief Superintendent Dalwardin Babu are all too aware that this peace is only temporary.
Babu was quick to point out that as things open up, the tension building on social media is poised to spill over if not properly handled.
Bridging the gap between Mental Health and violent crime, Haringey Sixth Form College and Pulford House’s documentary focused on social media, digital safety and inclusion.
Whilst online grooming has been a staple of school education over the last decade, it never had the current scale of use in mind. One participant reported to have had a screen time over 10 hours a day and Digital Champions are all too aware how vulnerable this makes some people.
Targeting the online grooming aspect of social media use, Digital Champions reminded us that many people have turned to digital services to get their social fix. In doing so, vulnerable young people have become targets for sexual and financial exploitation and without appropriate parental oversight and student education; it could be an issue that gets worse.
However, the absence of digital devices is not a fix-all solution. Also featuring in the documentary was a call to action to close the digital divide. Understood to be the difference between those who have internet-capable devices and Internet access vs. those who do not, the digital divide has highlighted how some forms of education are now inaccessible.
With students forced to study from home in mind, the Digital Divide not only promises to expand wealth and social inequality but rampantly speed up its effects through a lack of education. As such, students have appealed to Councllors to get education appropriate devices into their hands before it is too late.
With the 2021 Youth Summit now ended, Hope in Tottenham would like to thank everyone who took part and to Aseptic Studios and Dragon Egg Media for making the documentaries happen.