The Wickers Charity – diverting high risk and vulnerable young people away from gangs and knife crime

Barrie Laslett is CEO of The Wickers Charity, a charity that works to divert high risk and vulnerable young people away from gangs and knife crime, and helps them to fulfil their potential and become role models.

What does your charity do?
We divert high risk and vulnerable young people away from gangs and knife crime. We help these disadvantaged young people from East London to truly achieve their potential.

What are the challenges your service users face, and how does your organisation help users overcome them?
Our services users are growing up in poverty and come from deprived areas which have high numbers of violent incidents. This impacts their mental health and their confidence, and there is a lack of opportunities for them.

We believe that every young person should be able to fulfil their full potential, regardless of social status, race, religion, or postcode. We believe that no child or young person should have a reason to carry a knife or use a knife in an act of aggression. We believe that no young person should have to join a gang to earn money.

We support the young people by:

  1. Delivering activities that keep young people off the street and build their life skills.
  2. Providing positive role models that give hope for a better life and prepare them for a positive future.
  3. Giving access to opportunities for employment.

We have recently become the lead on violence reduction in Hackney, as part of an initiative called My Ends, funded by the Violence Reduction Unit in the London Mayor’s Office. We lead a consortium with other community organisations, and ELBA are a strategic partner.

Our work with ELBA has supported young people and families for over 3 years, providing them with much needed digital equipment such as laptops and raspberry pi operating systems. Many of the young people that we support also benefit from ELBA’s Christmas Toy Drive. Also with the support of ELBA, we have been able to provide young people with smart phones along with data sim cards, stationary, earphones, travel adaptors and more.

Do you have an inspirational story/moment about your work that you would like to share?
We have been working closely with a group of high-risk young people over the past few years. These young people are now paid members of staff and support the delivery of our activities and services. They have become positive role models and work as mentors in schools, as well as leading some of our after-school activities.

What kind of support are you in need of right now and how might volunteering fit into that?
We are in need of corporate volunteers who can act as employability mentors for some of our young people who take part in our employability workshops.

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