December 7, 2021. News

Celebrating the Day of Hope 2021

Today is the national Day of Hope 2021, established by the Hope Collective, it marks what would have been Damilola Taylor’s birthday, had he not been stabbed to death aged just 10 years old in 2006. His death at such a young age became a symbol both of the dangers of knife crime and the lost potential of young people growing up surrounded by inequality and violence.

In line with the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit’s priority to support young people through education and positive interventions, the VRU is a key partner of the Hope Collective and supports the Day of Hope.

VRU Director Stan Gilmour at a No 10 reception ahead of the Day of Hope

Stan Gilmour, Director of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“Today, the second Day of Hope, we remember not only the tragic circumstances of Damilola’s death and consider the impact of knife crime, but perhaps more importantly it is an opportunity to ensure that his legacy lives on.

“He wanted to change the world because like all young people he had great ambitions, hopes and dreams. He had huge potential but as a result of the inequalities he was surrounded by, his life was cut short.

“So today, we want to look with positivity at young people and everything that they offer. After all, they are the future for our communities. I hope that we can work together to support young people be the very best, whatever it is that they want to be.”

Across the Thames Valley, joining with voices from across the country, partners are marking the Day of Hope. Video messages by both Matthew Barber, the Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner, and Assistant Chief Constable Christian Bunt of Thames Valley Police have been issued which reflect on the huge potential of young people across the region.

YouTube video
A video message from Assistant Chief Constable Christian Bunt of Thames Valley Police

Increasing the youth voice:

Together with our partners, the VRU has made it a priority for the coming year to give young people an opportunity to discuss their priorities, their hopes, their fears and the issues they face growing up in a complex world.

A new Youth Violence Advisory Board is to be established, working closely with Oxfordshire Youth – piloting in Oxfordshire but to be expanded across the whole region.

The Thames Valley VRU is to host the first of a series of Hope Collective youth workshops in February 2022. Known as “Hope Hackathons”, these events will bring together young people from right across the country to a venue in Reading, where a conference will be held. Feedback from the event will be used to inform a report which will be passed to the Prime Minister’s strategy unit, as well as wider partners.

The VRU is also establishing a “Youth Ambassador” scheme, giving young people – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds or who have lived experience of violence and its root causes – opportunities to build skills and confidence and to represent the needs of young people.

Students of the EMBS Community College in Oxford who participated in a VRU Youth Focus Group
Young people share their hopes – courtesy of Berkshire Youth