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December 2011

Girls and Gangs: from vulnerable young women to strong young leaders

Arc is currently working on three fantastic new projects helping young women raise awareness and speak out about gang involvement, domestic violence and weapon crime…

Girl E Young Leaders: Girls Have Their Say Project

Arc’s new Home Office funded film project is a creative youth support and leadership initiative dedicated to helping young women get away from gang involvement and to become young leaders. In November 2011, Arc began working with a group of up to 24 girls from the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham involved in, or at risk of being involved in gangs and violent crime. The project will build on Arc’s existing performance and workshop portfolio on youth violence (including Stereo, Boy X and Pact by Clifford Oliver), and particularly on the British Transport Police commissioned Girl E, which tours to youth settings from winter 2011 and explores all facets of girls and gangs.

Meeting weekly at The Malthouse Studios in Barking, Arc is using team-building activities and creative facilitation to develop a safe and non-judgemental environment, with participants working with professional drama and video artists to create a documentary film exploring their experiences of gang involvement, and the wider issues and implications of gang culture and youth violent crime today. The associated issues include violence against women, sexual abuse/exploitation, gender stereotyping, knife/gun crime, sexual health, teenage pregnancy, low self-esteem/confidence/bullying/peer-pressure, and how/why people have personally been affected by gangs and youth violence.

Girls Have Their Say runs until August 2012 and is financed by the Home Office through the Communities Against Gangs, Guns and Knives Fund

Home Office

About Communities against Gangs, Guns and Knives

The ‘Communities against Guns, Gangs and Knives’ (CAGGK) fund provides £4 million for the voluntary and community sector over the next two years; £2 million will be available during 2011/12 and a further £2 million during 2012/13. The fund is part of the £18 million package announced by the Home Office in February 2011, made available to police, local agencies and the voluntary and community sector to tackle gang and gun or knife related violence and to prevent young people from becoming involved in this area of crime.

The Fund targets males and females aged 10 to 19 years-old at risk of involvement in gang, gun and knife crime or to support those who are involved to leave. 199 organisations delivering 207 a wide and diverse range of project activities have been funded including: sport, multi-media, music, drama, art, educational courses, health, peer mentoring, parent groups, counselling, volunteering, work placements, accredited training, outreach, and residential activities. Each successful organisation will receive up to £10,000 each per year to prevent the involvement of teenagers in gun, gang and knife crime.

Finding the Words

Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Finding the Words is a new two-year public-speaking and media programme giving young women a confident and credible voice in the debate around gangs and youth violence, and a platform for developing positive lifestyles and healthy relationships.

Using targeted skills training and development activities, the project will develop as a peer education programme with a series of intensive workshops building towards a wider awareness-raising, speaking and listening, and resource development programme. Through peer education, Finding the Words participants will also become positive role models and ambassadors for other young women touched by gang involvement and youth violence in their area – giving voice to key issues, taking positive action, and demonstrating that it is possible to make other, more healthy choices.

Teaching young people to work effectively both as individuals and as a group, participants will learn debating and public speaking techniques (including how to structure and deliver an argument) in order to be able to engage in discussion on the issues that matter to them confidently, clearly and effectively, with a view to articulating their views to decision and policy-makers at every level.

Speaking and listening activities will include: codes of engagement, how to listen effectively, rapport building, developing empathy, how to construct and deliver an argument effectively whilst maintaining respect for another’s point of view, debating techniques, assertiveness, public speaking (planning, preparation, presentation techniques, strategies for staying calm, confident and managing nerves under pressure/in a public forum), role-play and teamwork, leadership, and the different communication platforms available (both verbal and written), including how they can be applied.

Developing a clear product through a creative documentary and presentation programme Finding the Words will provide a resource legacy for young people and agencies, which is readily accessible and works in a medium that reflects how today’s young people choose to receive and submit information – on screen, via the internet and through social networking.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Girl E by Clifford Oliver, directed by Carole Pluckrose

From gangster’s moll to the honey in the honey trap, young women have always been involved in gang crime. Some are willing participants, others may see little or no alternative. Whether we see them as victims or perpetrators, many of these women experience unimaginable levels of physical and sexual violence.

Commissioned by British Transport Police, Girl E is the third play in Arc’s acclaimed Blade Trilogy, following Boy X and Pact, written by Clifford Oliver and directed by Carole Pluckrose. It looks at the increasing number of young women who are becoming involved in gang activity, through the story of a 16 year-old girl who has experienced neglect, abuse and unspeakable degradation in her short life. With little parental support or guidance, she has found society in street gangs, reflecting the violence of her upbringing by committing violent acts against others. At a point in her life when she seeks to finally take control and change, can we offer her the support to do so?

Read more about Girl E

To find out more about Arc’s work on gangs and violent crime, email Carole Pluckrose or call Carole at Arc on 020 8594 1095.

Read our December Newsletter to find out about our Girl E London tou, with a special introduction from Dr Tony Breslin of Breslin Public Policy.