After the shocking teenage stabbings of the last few days, there was even more poignancy to the ‘Through Unity' Conference in Docklands today. Through Unity is a charity which helps to give a voice to and support families who have lost loved ones to violent crime. The themes of the event were around stopping antisocial behaviour, binge drinking and youth violence; raising aspirations and providing real solutions to the problems; and how we can move forward to drive societal change.
It was a privilege to share a platform with Helen Newlove whose husband Garry was kicked to death outside of their home, Lorna Simpson whose son Jamie was killed in Hackney and Franklyn Edwards whose nephew Robert was stabbed to death protecting a 14 year old child in a street attack in Hackney. There were many other families in the audience. It was humbling and inspiring at the same time. I cannot think of more powerful voices to help drive political change. Rani King, the Chief Executive of Through Unity deserves great credit in bringing this extraordinary of group of people together.
There were many young people at the Conference and it was interesting to hear their perspective on the importance of youth facilities and the contribution that young people make to our society. Recurring themes of family, the need for boundaries and responsibility were raised by a number of contributors. For me, family policy has to be at the heart of providing the long-term solutions to deal with violent, aggressive and selfish behaviour. The reality lost on this Government is that strong families and strong communities are as effective in instilling a culture of respect and responsibility as any law, rule or regulation made in Westminster. That's a message I'll be taking away from today.
Featured in the picture are Iffat Rizvi, myself, Rani King and Helen Newlove.