A Sheffield charity has written an open letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for South Yorkshire and the city’s councillors urging them to tackle the rising issue of youth violence.
The letter was shared on Twitter by Mums United on 2 May. They asked candidates in this week’s election to outline the support they will offer to youngsters following a rise of violence in Sheffield.
They highlight a total of 17,443 incidents of violence in Sheffield reported to South Yorkshire Police between June 2019 and June 2020 – an increase of 8% compared to the previous year.
Sahira Irshad, trustee chair of Mums United, said the group wrote the letter following a recent fatal shooting and a stabbing in the city.
“We’ve already had numerous meetings with council leaders and MPs but we felt that it would make more of an impact if we wrote a public, open letter,” she said.
“This same letter has been sent to every councillor, all the nominees and to the PCC candidates as well. We wanted to make a public statement that we have had enough and these are the measures that we think need to take place in order for change to happen.”
So far, Ms Irshad said the response from councillors has been quite positive, but that they are still waiting for their local MPs to respond.
She said: “I’m hoping that they respond before the march. It’s really important that we all stand together and ensure that our voices are heard.”
The march, which is planned to take place from Heeley People’s Park on 22 May at 3pm, has been organised by Mums United to show solidarity against gang violence.
“I noticed quite a few people making comments saying ‘It’s not going to stop the dealing, it’s not going to stop the gangs from going about their daily business,’ Ms Irshad said.
“That may be true, but we’re here for every mum, dad, brother, sister, auntie, uncle and grandparent who have lost children to the gang violence. Whether it’s gangs or being attacked, we’re here to say that we’re here for them.”
Mums United are calling for improved understanding and cooperation between the police and the community, say information provided to the police by the community should be acted on promptly, and that due care should be given to witnesses in order to build trust in communities.
They are also calling for radical reshaping of provision for young people, including funding youth services, support for students who have been excluded and better coordination between schools and grassroots organisations.
In the letter, they say these initiatives should be piloted in gang crime hotspots in Sheffield and then rolled out across the city, “because Sheffield is no longer a safe place to allow children and young people ‘out to play’ unsupervised.”
The charity, which has been running for two and a half years, have held community events, self-defence classes, and clubs where they engage with local young people and mums and allow them space to talk about issues they are experiencing.
During the Covid-19 pandemic they set up a charitable bank at the Wicker, giving ownership to young people and mums, who distribute food parcels and activity packs to vulnerable people.
South Yorkshire residents cast their votes for the next PCC and councillors at the election on 6 May.
For more information about Mums United, the march or to volunteer at the charitable bank visit www.mums-united.com or their social media pages @mumsunitedshef (Twitter) or MumsunitedSheffield (Facebook).