‘Share What’s Unfair’ Competition Extension Update

Exciting news for all of you young people living in Croydon!  I have been told that the ‘Share What’s Unfair’ competition, launched by Croydon’s Young Opportunity and Fairness Commission (YOFC) has actually been extended until the end of October, but with a slight twist.

If you’re 11-24, this social media competition allows you to tweet, Instagram or Facebook a photo of what you think is unfair for young people in Croydon.  However, this time you will need to use the hash tag, #yofcunfair, so that the YOFC will be aware of your entry.

Remember, if you enter, you’ll be in with the chance of winning the grand prize of an iPad mini.  And if you happen to be one of the two runners-up, you’ll get yourself some gift vouchers.  You will also be having your say on Croydon, while helping the YOFC to gain insight into what young people think is unfair for them in the borough.

So what are you waiting for?  Get your phones out and ‘Share What’s Unfair’ right now!Share What's Unfair Poster

How can we drive down knife crime attacks?

On Monday night, a 16-year-old boy became the tenth young victim of knife crime in London this year.  Two weeks ago, a 17-year-old became the ninth victim and just 24 hours before him, another 17-year-old was stabbed to death for ‘disrespecting another boy’ by talking to his girlfriend.

It is not surprising to learn that reported knife crime figures have risen not only in London, but also in England and Wales.  There seems to be a stabbing in the news almost every week, reporting mainly on the fatalities, but there are also stories about the more extreme attacks.  However, a higher number of knife attacks usually take place throughout the year, which do not make it onto the national news or even into the news at all.

Again, I must stress that what the police and the government have been doing to try and combat knife crime is obviously not working.  Increases in Stop and Search or implementing harsher sentences has not driven knife crime down, and instead it continues run rife around the country.  It seems that the solution lies less with law enforcement and perhaps more with community or educational initiatives.

In a letter to the editor of the Evening Standard, Lucy Hastings, director of the charity Victim Support, wrote: “The rise in the number of knife crime incidents in London among teenagers is a serious cause for concern…  After years of success in driving knife crime down, this recent incident combined with the rise is a worrying development and efforts to educate people about the dangers of carrying knives must be stepped up.”

Young people are continuing to use knives as a solution to their problems or as a way to prove a point, rather than attempting to effectively communicate or even fight without the use of a weapon if they find themselves in disputes.

All of these deaths are pointless and what is worse is that many of them are down to the most ridiculous reasons.  It’s sad to see this waste of so many young lives, who had their whole futures ahead of them, but what is worse is that young people choose to continue using knives even when they’ve seen the pain that it causes so many families.

We need to make the necessary moves in our community and implement the changes that will stop knife crime from spiralling further out of control.  We cannot allow knife crime to get any worse, because we have a duty to the individuals in our community to stop this terror from ruining any more lives.  What do you think we can do?P1120510 2

Matthew Don continues to make moves to pursue his dream

Last year, 21-year-old Croydon native, Matthew Don, was preparing to play college basketball at Cameron University in the United States.  Now, he is preparing to play professional basketball in Spain, making yet another move on the journey to make his dreams come true.

Matthew played the position of Power Forward/Center during his year at Cameron University, which is part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II‘s Lone Star Conference.  While playing at Cameron, Matthew had a career high of 17 points and 11 rebounds.

I can imagine that playing in a team that comes under the renowned NCAA must be an experience for any player, and Matthew said that his time playing at Cameron was “a really good experience…[It’s part of the]… number one D2 league in the country and every year, every team gets at least three D1 transfers.”  What he most enjoyed though was “the travelling and my teammates.”

There were bound to be highs and lows in his college career at Cameron, as he continued to grow as a player.  His biggest achievement was his team making it to the semi finals of the conference tournament, beating their rivals Midwestern State University, who had already beaten them twice that season.  On the flip side, his biggest struggle was “losing in the semi finals and knowing that was my last college game ever.”

Yet as soon as the season finished, Matthew began speaking with agents online, and he eventually found one, who came back to him with the Spanish team, CB Virgen de la Concha.

CB Virgen de la Concha is part of Liga EBA, one of the championships in the Spanish basketball league system.  Matthew said that the team wanted to sign him because “they can help my game and get me to where I want to go.”  It is a like a return of sorts for Matthew, who spent time at the Canarias Basketball Academy before going to the States.

Matthew will be playing the position of Wing/Power Forward in Spain starting later this month, where he hopes to win the league and be recognised as a good player, by “either making an All Conference team or rookie of the year etc.”

“Scared, nervous and super excited” is how Matthew is feeling about making another move.  However, when asked how he felt about learning he would be playing pro ball in Spain he said, “Honestly, I don’t know what to think.  I still don’t because I haven’t visited the town yet; all you can really do is look at stuff on the Internet.  It’s scary not knowing what you’re going to but exciting at the same time.”

Matthew’s basketball career is continuing to heat up and he’s continuing to move to different countries, but he’s never forgotten about his home.  He said: “Hopefully one day I can give back to the community where I grew up, since I know the struggle and how hard it is for kids to find a place to play basketball.”

Photo from Facebook and used with permission.
Photo from Facebook and used with permission.

The hard work is paying off, but Matthew is still striving to get to where he wants to be.  For anyone in the process of trying to go pro, he offers these words of encouragement: “Keep God first, stay prayed up, don’t give up and keep working hard.  Everyday.”

Back to School

It was back to school for young people this week,

Some starting secondary school or sixth form for the first time.

Maybe others will be returning to college,

After the holidays, it’s a return to the classroom.

School can be a whole lot of fun,

With the friends you make and teachers you learn from.

You may not realise it now,

But school can be the best days of your life,

Before you know it you’ll be out in the real world,

Working hard to get by.

However, it’s not all about having fun,

And unfortunately, these days the pressure is piling on,

With regular exams and evaluations,

Which seems to have become the norm with education.

Some are in the early stages,

Preparing to start their SATs, A-levels or GCSEs,

Readying themselves for those illustrious exams in Spring.

They need to be reassured that exams are not everything,

And they can succeed in life without them,

Because mental health issues are on the rise,

And the constant pressure isn’t helping them get by.

School needs to be a more protective environment,

Allowing the students to be themselves,

Boosting them through the exam process,

And encouraging them to pursue what they love.

There is so much more for young people to learn,

Than just the standard lessons on the curriculum,

Which is what they should be championing in education,

Getting the best out of the students within the system.

Photo by Avolore and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo by Avolore and used under Creative Commons License.