A free awareness session has been arranged for Chelmsford parents by the Safer Chelmsford Partnership on the evening of Thursday 23 January.
Delivered by Reach Every Generation, the session will cover the risks around child exploitation and gangs from a real-life perspective. Attendees will learn what a gang is, how they operate, the risks of joining one, the support available and real-life testimony from someone with experience of the issues discussed.
The session is free to attend and is open to all parents, grandparents, carers and guardians living in Chelmsford, including the surrounding villages and South Woodham Ferrers. Booking is essential.
Founded by ex-gang member Gavin McKenna, Reach Every Generation is an organisation that specialises in gang awareness and helping those who are caught up in that life. As a child, Gavin was involved in East London gangs and at the age of just ten saw a man being stabbed. He has now turned his life around and works to help others to stay away from gangs.
Councillor Jude Deakin, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities at Chelmsford City Council, said, “Essex, like much of the UK, has seen an increase in the criminal exploitation of children for drug dealing by urban street gangs. Intelligence from the Police suggests that county lines are active in this area. We and our partners work closely together with the police to combat this problem from many angles and reduce the risk to our young people. Attending a session could help you to have a talk with your child or spot a sign that stops a young person from being drawn into the trap of gangs and exploitation.”
County lines are gangs, groups or drug networks that supply drugs from urban to suburban areas across the country, using dedicated mobile phone lines. They exploit vulnerable adults and children as young as ten to move or store drugs and money using threats, intimidation, violence and weapons.
Gavin McKenna said, "Gangs groom children to participate in county lines and drug dealing and do not discriminate based on ethnicity, religion, gender, age, disability or financial status. Any young person could be at risk of exploitation. By talking about this issue and learning how it works, we can all help to prevent more children being exploited by criminals."
The session will be held from 6.30pm to 8.45pm in the Chelmsford City Council Chamber at the Civic Centre, Duke Street, CM1 1JE on 23 January. Places will be given on a first-come-first-served basis. Please book by emailing Kaylie Charlery at firstname.lastname@example.org on 01245 606288.
Find out more about Reach Every Generation at https://reacheverygeneration.co.uk.
Wednesday 15 January.