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Middlesex gives young Somali women a voice in fight against violent crime

Middlesex University has teamed up with Samafal, an Edmonton-based community group, to help prevent young women in north London’s Somali community becoming involved in gang, gun and knife crime.

The partnership received £30k to help fund a multimedia project which forms part of a £2.3million nationwide campaign by the Home Office to tackle knife crime and support victims.

The project, called Fully Focused, will support 12 women between the ages of 15 and 24 each year for three years and will see participants produce photographs, graphics and audio material to explore several subjects, including: their relationships with their parents; dating; marriage; religion, gang culture and adulthood.

Announcing the funding the Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: “The organisations receiving funding work tirelessly with communities at the very frontline of the fight against knife crime and demonstrate how at every level we are tackling serious youth violence.”

There are some 8,000 Somali families across Enfield and Haringey, with a vibrant and growing population of second generation, British born, Somalis. The project aims to give young women in the community a voice.

Vivienne Francis, Fully Focused project director from Middlesex University’s Media department, said: “Recent research we’ve carried out with various partners show that the attraction to forming gangs amongst young Somalis, especially women, is rooted in issues around identity, lack of role models and family unit dislocation. Through use of photography and audio we will help address some of these troubling areas. 

"Of course, the issue of gangs and violent crime is a problem across the country, but it is important for the University to invest in our local community.”

Kaltun Abdillahi, Samafal director, said: “For most of the young women, this will be their first experience of a university environment. The hope is they will realise the potential of education and appreciate its scope in delivering a positive impact on their lives.”

There will be a series of workshops at the University’s Trent Park site to develop the skills needed to produce the work and the young women involved with Fully Focused will also be mentored by current students on media courses at Middlesex.

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