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Hope at the end of the road? It’s a reality

Leroy-LoganIn just one incident last month, five young men were injured in a shootout in north London. As a response to the ongoing gun and knife crime, leading black figures this week launched a new project aimed at curbing the spiral of violence

Spearheaded by a Christian senior policeman, Leroy Logan, the organisation REALLITY, which was launched in the House of Commons this week, is a partnership between the black-majority churches and some of Britain’s high-flyers.

Watch Dawn Butler's speech here

Watch Dawn Butler's speech at REALLITY launch

By combining local constructive activities for the youth, and the involvement of role models from all walks of life, the grassroots group hopes to create a more holistic approach to tackling disillusionment and gang culture.

The launch came in the same week that the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Trident ran a high profile publicity campaign to warn young women they face lengthy jail sentences if they hide deadly weapons on behalf of boyfriends or family members.

The organisers say they formed REALLITY – which stands for Raising Everyone’s Awareness of Lives Lost In The Youth – because there was a need for a better understanding  what is missing from the lives of young people, as well as spreading an anti-gun and knife message.

Dotun-Adebayo

Watch Dotun Adebayo at the REALLITY launch

Bevan Powell, summed up what their new body was trying to achieve. ‘What we want to do in REALLITY, is bring about transformation’, he said.

‘We want to change hearts and minds. I believe that every young person has greatness within them. It’s the responsibility of all of us to nurture that greatness so that people can fulfil their aspirations.’

Powell was joined by a host of successful professionals who are giving up their time to work with young people. Others who are involved include Rob Neil, a civil servant and a REACH role model.

In fact there were three senior black Whitehall mandarins at the REALLITY, plus business people, church figures and members of the Black Police Association.

Watch Luminous perform at launch

Watch Luminous perform at launch

Dawn Butler, MP for Brent South, said: ‘There’s a saying that if you praise the youth they will prosper, and I think that if you sow the seeds of hope in young people, they will grow. And what REALLITY is doing is sowing that seed of hope.’

The new organisation has emerged from a group called TRUCE, which was inspired by the work of Nicky Cruz, a former leading member of violent New York gang who is now an evangelist. TRUCE held Hip Hop dance sessions on some of Hackney’s most deprived housing estates to reach gang members.

BBC radio presenter Dotun Adebayo, who compered the REALLITY launch before a packed audience, said he hoped they would be able to reach more young people who were on a “road to nowhere”.

‘I, myself, come from a community of urban deprivation. I grew up in Tottenham. I went to school with the likes of Winston Silcott, notorious now’, Adebayo said. ‘I’ve shared an apartment with the shoe-bomber, believe it or not. That’s the kind of background I have, and sometimes I have to ask myself “what made the difference?’

He said his exposure to the acting profession meant he saw “a completely different world; a world that was closed to a young coloured boy, if you like – to using that term from the 60s – from Tottenham. I found a world where people didn’t just spend their time looking for trouble, as much of my youth was spent.”

The organisation begin their work in the capital but plan to go nationwide in future years.

Visit www.reallity.org

By Lester Holloway

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