How can we support families of the victims of knife crime? Peckham meeting looks for answers

A lawyer who saw her mum shot in front of her is hoping to create a network to support families of murder victims.

Delma Pryce will host a meeting on Saturday for any effected members of the community trying to piece their lives together and hoping to help other people hit by the consequences of knife crime.

The meeting at Peckham Palm, Bournemouth Road, from 11am-4pm is called ”

Losing a child to Knife Crime – The Aftermath – A Silent Conversation”
It will try to bring together strands of the projects which help suffering families – and those tryinig to prevent harm happening in the first place.
Delma said: “More and more BAME parents are now faced with the aftermath of knife crime be they the parents of the victim or the parents of the perpetrator.

“We now need a public conversation in order to gain an indepth understanding of what happens to those parents – who becomes their support mechanism?

“Are agencies sufficiently sign-posted for assistance?

“Do parents feel isolated in their grief?

“Or are they encouraged because their families and friends are supporting their feeling of loss, not momentarily but for the long haul?

“What about the siblings and friends of the lost one – are they encouraged to speak freely and explore their feelings without fear of retaliation?-

“Most persons after the funeral are left to fend for themselves without professional help or assistance.

“This often leads to a spike in mental illness. Amongst BAMEs, there is an unspoken taboo alongside a historic lack of mental illness service provision.

“I call the conversation is a silent one because we’re all doing our own thing at the moment. Groups are having have their own dialogue in their own corners.
“We need to amalgamate all our voices. Black people historically don’t use mental health care services. I’m hoping to find a way to see if it’s ok. We need to feel like we can make use of them.
“I’ve been to a lot of seminars where people are browbeaten and talked at. I hope this discussion will enable people to talk more about what they need.”
The grandmother of eight has been asked to help friends with their teenage sons, if they appear to be heading down a self-destructive path.

One was really concerned about her son and what his friends were up to.

“He did not want to go out, was very isolated and not working,” said Delma. “She asked me to talk to him because I do a lot of counselling.

“He told me that from an early age he was always being threatened by older boys. He thought by the time you got to secondary school that you had to carry a knife to protect yourself. I did not ask him if you’d ever used it because I didn’t want him to clam up on me. But I am not sure he felt protected.
“Some of his friends were gang members. He’s in a very sad place – mental illness has taken over. He’s paranoid and afraid of life.
“These days, people are afraid to be youngsters. In in their teenage years they feel they have to be confrontational.
“Friends are in and out of young offenders institutes for gang related offences.
“My friend’s son was locked up in his house playing PlayStation for years. He was excluded from school when he was 14. He has no aspirations for a job.
“When he says he’s really angry that is a trigger to me. I asked him what his angry about – he just said Society.
“They seem lost. There is no one to talk to and young people are in a very isolated place.”
She still finds it hard to deal with having witnessed seeing her mother shot dead in a bungled robbery 30 years ago.
“I remember the trauma I went through,” she said. “When you lose someone that dramatically it’s not like a heart attack.
“You start thinking about – what could I have done? You feel guilty.
“When I add up the amount of knife crime and the number of colleagues and friends who have passed – you have to ask yourself where did they go? I’ve lost five friends.
“But there’s no aftermath. Because no one is actually talking about it. You have a funeral and everyone goes home. Everyone is expected to get on as normal – but you can’t go back. The doctor could put you on antidepressants. I never went on medication but I had to work my way through it. And it took me 20 years.
“We have more information and more services now. This meeting is about parents, colleagues and siblings talking to each other about what they’re feeling.
“If someone comes from a family full of domestic violence, they are more likely to become a perpetrator. If you’ve been in trauma all your life, that’s what you’re used to.”
Violence can easily spiral out of control as rivalries between gangs escalate.
Delma said: “A person will think ‘They’ve done my friend – I’ll do them back’.
“There’s a vicious circle that comes out of trauma.
“My parents came during the Windrush era. I am the first generation British. Among my peers people in their 60s we are saying enough is enough. We’re tired of it. People are saying this is what prevents it – but doing nothing.
“We either do something do nothing – or we do something. I’m hoping to start a conversation. To bring together people who feel the same way. It is about the people who are directly affected. We want to bring in practitioners, psychiatrists, mental health specialists for an informal discussion and talk about our experiences.”

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