View from Westminster: ‘Damilola has been in my thoughts’

News Desk (04 December, 2020)

'Two decades on, families are still being torn apart by violent crime. My priority is to find a way to put an end to this and restore hope in our communities'

34310Florence Eshalomi, MP for Vauxhall and Southwark and Lambeth assembly member

I would like to thank Londoners for sticking to the rules during another tough lockdown period, writes Florence Eshalomi…

With London moving into tier 2 restrictions and the emergence of increasingly promising news on the vaccine development front, we are finally starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite this, the threat of COVID-19 will be with us for a while yet, so it is imperative that we sustain our efforts to keep each other safe by following the guidelines.

Damilola Taylor and his family have been in my thoughts as we mark the twentieth anniversary of his tragic murder on the North Peckham Estate. Damilola wanted to become a doctor and I am proud to be supporting the Hope 2020 campaign, that his dad has been leading to honour what he might have achieved and to champion the aspirations of all young people. I look forward to joining Richard Taylor and many other campaigners to celebrate Damilola’s life at an event to be held next year at Southwark Cathedral.

Two decades on, families are still being torn apart by violent crime. My priority is to find a way to put an end to this and restore hope in our communities.

Underpinning this issue is the exploitation of children at the hands of gangs and the county lines drugs trade. This hasn’t stopped during the pandemic by any means, as criminals have been adapting to the situation.

This is why the early intervention work of charities such as Barnardo’s and their See, Hear, Respond programme and City Hall’s Rescue and Response initiative continues to be vital.

Ofsted inspectors recently praised Southwark Council’s children’s services – but said that interventions to protect young people from criminal exploitation or serious youth violence are not always timely or well-coordinated. Given the prevalence of serious youth violence and criminal exploitation in the borough, it’s clear the pace of improvements must accelerate.

Rental e-scooters are to be trialled on the streets of London from Spring next year, including here in Southwark. E-scooters are currently illegal for use in any public place. However, they are legal to sell, and demand for them is growing. The year-long scheme will address safety concerns and assess if e-scooters can provide an alternative to crowded public transport and help avoid a car-based recovery from the pandemic.

Finally, I have been pleased to see that a Community Health Ambassadors Network is being launched in the borough. These volunteers will help their family, friends and wider community make sense of the latest advice and information to help ensure we all stay safe. Please do get involved in you can.

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