SOS+ Project

Thursday, 18 May 2017.
SOS+ Project
On Monday 15 May 2017, Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 students attended a 50 minute SOS+ Gangs Session.
We are grateful to Braintree Community Safety Partnership for funding these sessions in all North Essex secondary schools.  This is as a response to our police dealing with increasing numbers of cases linked to gangs operating in our area linked to gangs from Newham, Hackney and Haringey.  County lines is a new emergent issue. Over the last couple of years, criminal gangs have slowly been venturing outside of London boroughs seeking to exploit towns and locations where there is less chance of police presence. Young people are used and exploited; being lured by the temptation of easy money and the glamour of gangs. Young people that the St Giles Trust have come across are no more than children; typically ten years old and above. The consequences for these young people are huge.

The Gangs Session was aimed at creating a cultural shift amongst young people, by both dispelling the myths that glamorise gang life and crime, whilst also exposing the serious exploitative and grooming tactics that take place in order to get young people to join gangs and commit crime. The aim was that all young people left the session understanding the exploitative recruitment processes used by gangs and the catastrophic dangers involved with joining gangs and the serious consequences of supplying drugs/committing crime. This was certainly made crystal clear.  Most importantly, though, they walked away with real tools to avoid recruitment and exploitation. SOS+ use ex-gang members’ testimonials and expose the realities of how girls are treated in gangs.  Daisy’s story made all of our students sit up and listen.

During the session, other key aims were that all students:- 

  • Understand what constitutes breaking the law.
  • Understand the consequences of breaking the law, i.e. prison, and how this affects their life choices.
  • Understand the consequences of carrying a weapon.
  • Are capable of sympathising/empathising with victims of crime and understand the impact this has on the wider community.
  • That they also understood that SOS+ caseworkers would never turn away any young person that comes to them for help. It was emphasised repeatedly during the sessions that if they are concerned about themselves or a friend that they must tell someone they trust.
A Channel 5 documentary “Inside the Gang” was aired on Monday evening (15 May 2017). It featured Junior Smart who was one of the presenters at our sessions and the documentary explained the rise of county lines.  Junior is also the founder of the SOS Project, which is a part of St Giles Trust.  http://site.stgilestrust.org.uk/what-we-do/sos-project