Crouch Hill charity trying to keep young from gangs needs volunteers

Sgt Quinn in action

Sgt Quinn in action - Credit: Archant

A vital charity that helps stop youngsters joining violent gangs by taking them on outdoor pursuits wants volunteers to help its good work.

Yes Outdoors, based in Cape, in the Parkland Walk Nature Reserve, Crouch Hill, gets kids around the nearby Elthorne Estate into activities including rock climbing and kayaking.

Organisers fear they might otherwise join gangs such as Busy Block, said to be responsible for Andrew Jaipaul’s murder in 2011.

The scheme was set up in 2011 by Sgt Tony Quinn, a senior officer at Holloway Police Station, in response to growing offending and re-offending among young people in the area.

After a difficult start, the project, which also targets youngsters from Hackney, has expanded to include girls at risk of sexual exploitation, and now needs members of the community to get involved so that Yes Outdoors isn’t seen as a police organisation.

Next level

He said: “The idea is to get the kids into outdoor activities, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, that kind of thing – to try and prevent them from offending, ­re-offending and being part of gangs.

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“It’s been a success, but we want to move it on to the next level.

“One problem we have is the fact that it started as a police scheme and young people from certain backgrounds don’t trust us – there is a bit of conflict.

“That’s why we want to get people from the community involved and step away from the Met.

“We want to be seen as a community project working with the referrals from the police.

“Its a big barrier to overcome and this could help.”

Sgt Quinn says it was initially a struggle to win over some of the youngsters.

“We got going in 2011,” he said. “But 2012 was our first real year.

“In the first 12 months we did some good work with Elthorne gang members, but it didn’t always work perfectly with the older youths. They were too entrenched in the gangs and drifted back to them.

“The following year we were working with the younger crowd and they took to it more – in a lot of cases they were only affiliated with gangs for protection and we gave them something else to be part of.

“Now we have expanded to take on some girls who are at risk of sexual exploitation through being part of a gang.

“So it’s going well, but we want to make it even better – and to do that we need volunteers. We want people to support us.”

All volunteers will be offered training and support from a dedicated coordinator.

To get involved, email or call 0208 446 2387.