Co-sponsored by the Safer Neighbourhood Board and Bridge Renewal Trust, Hope in Haringey brought the 2024 edition of the Haringey Youth Summit to Dominion Centre, Wood Green. Hosting 400 people, it served to be the largest Youth Summit to date.

By Omar Alleyne-Lawler, Communications and Police Engagement Manager

Dukes Aldridge’s students opened the summit with a powerful presentation on their student-made and led anti-bullying charter.

Hope in Haringey celebrated its fifth annual youth summit this week, gathering young people and professionals to discuss key topics on the agenda of the borough’s youth. Themed around a ‘Stronger Schools, Safer Community’ message, guests were welcomed in Richard Owusu–Adu, Minister of the Dominion Centre, Musician Ben Okafor and Parliamentary candidate for Tottenham, David Lammy. With the event officially opened, guests were guided through the topics of racial injustice, serious youth violence, violence against women and girls and mental health following the pandemic in four key addresses.

Leading this summit would be Haringey’s young people. Contributions would come from ten local schools and further education colleges, making this youth summit truly youth-led. Supporting the young people would be experts from each topic, ready to share their research and field questions from students.

The first presentation from this student-expert collaboration would be Dukes Aldridge Academy, Matthew Knights (Haringey Council), Beverley Hendricks (Haringey Council) and Gladesmore Community School. Presenting on the topic of serious youth violence, Dukes’ students outlined their student-led anti-bullying policy whilst Gladesmore’s students reflected on interpersonal violence in the borough through poetry. For Knights and Hendricks, their presentation acknowledged the violence still present in Haringey, yet acknowledged the successes in their 10-year Young People at Risk Strategy which has seen violence reduce in the borough.

The summit would then welcome speakers to discuss the topic of mental health following the pandemic. Spearheaded by Grieg City Academy, the presentation outlined the benefits of exercise on our mental health and well-being. Coach Shalarm Creary (Lea Rowing Club) and Youth Leader Akin Akintola (Bruce Grove Youth Space) would reaffirm this, sharing the benefits of community in the face of adversity. Attendees would then be reminded by ex-Premier League footballer, Leon McKenzie (Fight IT) about what happens when your mental health is not looked after. Told to “fight it, get help & talk”, Leon would share how his battle with depression and anxiety almost cost him his life until he took that advice. The final expert speaker would be Psychotherapist, Ruth Glover (Open Door) to talk about the scope of mental health provision in the borough before fielding questions from London Academy of Excellence Tottenham students.

The summit hosted more than 400 people at Wood Green’s Dominion Centre, making it one of the largest youth summits in the event’s five year history.

The penultimate topic for the morning would be racial injustice. Led by Park View, students reflected on their school-wide efforts to create an equitable society. Having been inspired by events such as the Stephen Lawerence inquiry and Black Lives Matter, they want to be citizens and contribute to a fairer society. Personal stories would be shared too, with Victor Olisa (Police Scotland) and Gavin Lewis (Author of the Opportunity Index), reflecting on their difficult experiences as trailblazers in their respective fields of Policing and Finance when they first started. Harris Academy Tottenham students would follow up with poignant and reflective questions, asking the speakers how they can create fair opportunities for one another when given the platforms to do so.

Coach Shalarm of Lea Rowing Club shared with attendees the benefits of being part of a community whilst exercising on our mental health

Finally, the summit would begin to conclude with its segment focusing on preventing violence against women and girls. As a key issue for Hope in Haringey, Police Engagement Manager, Omar Alleyne-Lawler spoke on the charity’s collaborative efforts with schools and police officers to deliver consent and anti-harassment workshops across Haringey.

One school that benefitted from this outreach work was Mulberry Academy Woodside. Currently focusing on a school-wide programme targeting healthy relationships, MAW students shared their learnings on consent, anti-harassment and positive masculine behaviour modelling. Officers responsible for this consent workshop rollout were also given time to speak, signposting students to safe places and trusted people should they feel unsafe or are victims of harassment.

Closing out the event would be Heartlands High. Dazzling attendees with a dance group and inspirational, student-made poetry, all were left with food for thought, encouraged that they are putting in the effort to make the borough better than its reputation precedes.

Hope in Haringey would like to thank everyone who attended and took part. The success of these events is shared and we would like to thank the Bridge Renewal Trust and the Safer Neighbourhood Board for their sponsorship of this year’s event.