Retreating to advance
“This event will advance our national strategy to address the community violence problem” — Michael Weeks, Minister of National Security
Ending violence and preventing future harm requires teamwork combined with a framework that lays out, in plain language, what is being done at every level to stop gang violence.
That is why over the past months there have been several town hall meetings to discuss how the National Gang Violence Strategy works, its role in preventing violent incidents, and stopping further escalation in the aftermath of violent and sometimes deadly events.
The national strategy is making progress, but like any plan, adjustments are needed to meet the community’s needs. That is why national security minister Michael Weeks announced an upcoming retreat that will build on the feedback received during town hall meetings on community violence. The retreat takes place on September 15 and 16, and continues the engagement of stakeholders in charities, churches, government departments, mental health personnel, private sector personnel and sports clubs.
Hearing from those who work with young people that are at risk of either joining gangs or participating in violent activities is crucial to the success of the programme and bringing an end to the cycle of violence plaguing the island.
Professionals and volunteers see the day-to-day anguish of families grappling in the aftermath of violence. They are the men and women dedicated to steering young people away from gangs and towards a better future. The Government is committed to listening and taking on board ideas from our frontline partners.
Feedback, advice and critiques from different sectors assist us in better serving the needs of our young people and the adults who love them. Discussions during town hall meetings, seminars and retreats tell us what is working and what is falling short.
The National Gang Violence Strategy is a twofold document, as it contains critical permanent programmes and strategies that are the bedrock of preventing and stopping violence among individuals, groups, and families, while being purposefully designed to adjust to changing circumstances when required. In other words, the National Gang Violence Strategy is a robust, living document.
We thank all the stakeholders working with the Ministry of National Security, and the wider governmental agencies to help stem the tide of violence. We look forward to collaborating with you at the upcoming retreat in September as we advance our National Gang Violence Strategy.
• Dennis Lister III is a government backbencher and the MP for Warwick West (Constituency 28)