Peckham Citizens & Wellspring: Taking Action on Local Issues

Since the summer 2017, Peckham Citizens has been meeting in the church hall at St Luke’s, Peckham to discuss and take action on the issue of knife crime in the local area. Various members have formed a part of these monthly meetings, including local organisations and parish churches. Members from the Wellspring community, such as myself, have also been present, as part of our commitment to be a community that puts loving action and service at the heart of what we do.

Being part of Peckham Citizens has been a core part of developing our sense of mission and our engagement with what local organisations are already doing regarding local issues. Unfortunately the issue of knife crime is a tragedy that is witnessed in Peckham far too often. In fact, just down the road from the St Luke’s Church where we meet, is the Damilola Taylor Centre, which was setup following the sad loss of Damilola Taylor in 2001.

And it seems, knife crime and gang culture are still rife, even sixteen years later. Having moved into Peckham in February this year, there have already been a handful of knife stabbings – all within a fairly close proximity to where I live.  On the one hand, living in Peckham has enabled me to go deeper in faith by being able to participate more in the life of the Church community. On the other hand, it has made me all too aware of the frequent and tragic losses of life occurring around these parts.

However, rather than feeling hopeless about the current state of affairs, I am feeling hopeful. Living in Peckham and being involved in the Wellspring Community has not only helped me to go deeper in faith but realise how my faith can be used in a real and practical way. It has made me realise that perhaps this where God wants me to be after all. Being involved in the Wellspring Community has connected me to people at a local level and enabled myself, and others to make a difference – no matter how small.

At the very first meeting with Peckham Citizens on knife crime, I almost felt I was there out of obligation. And I felt hopeless and somewhat ignorant to speak on such a heavy topic. But now, I turn up because I want to. Although it can be difficult to speak about, listening to people’s stories and experiences has been incredibly eye-opening, humbling and life-giving.

In fact, last weekend, myself and another member of our community, Fola, went out into Peckham to approach teenagers on the subject of knife crime.  Although the idea of this initially filled me with fear, it turned into an enlightening experience that I’m glad I dared to do.

Hearing groups of teenagers speak out on how knife crime has affected them, their thoughts on why it happens and solutions to the problem was, in itself, all very revealing. Whilst thankfully, knife crime didn’t appear to be an immediate concern for some, for others, the reality of it appeared to be a real concern, making our mission to take action against knife crime in Peckham an even more important one.

Peckham Citizens are meeting again at St Luke’s Church hall on Monday 30th October from 6.30pm – 8pm. Everyone is most welcome to attend! If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch here.

- Catherine Rowland