A Message to the Man Investigating Poverty in the UK
Lewisham's 15-year-old Young Mayor Elect speaks out on the causes of knife crime.
Photo supplied by author
A version of the following was addressed to Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights to the UN, who visited Newham on Monday as part of his two-week tour to investigate poverty in the UK.
My name is Adam Abdullah, I'm 15 and I'm the Young Mayor elect of Lewisham.
I'm sure that in exploring poverty in the UK you've come across our crises in housing, food banks and education inequality.
But an issue I fear has not been raised is this government’s deliberate refusal to tackle knife crime and institutional racism.
I don't have to draw the link between this and knife crime, alongside the £2.8 billion cut from schools since 2015 – it's evident.
But why is this institutional racism?
With black boys being more likely to be expelled, with black boys more likely to be targeted by the police and with black boys more likely to be stabbed, institutional racism is a by-product of austerity and poverty.
Black and minority people are more likely to be in poverty and be economically segregated.
All you have to do is walk five to ten minutes from point A to B in Lewisham to observe the entirely different standards of living, schools and lifestyles – and you can observe the colours of the people living in those places.
The government knew poverty would hit some people harder than others, yet they still chose to implement austerity, knowing full well the consequences and knowing that at any point they could stop it. They didn't.
WATCH: London's Knife Crime Emergency: On a Knife Edge
We have murder after murder in Lewisham, as caused by the spike in crime, as caused by the spike in poverty and austerity, as caused by this government.
We have a continuous cycle whereby the government slashes funding from our schools and youth services, and then cries wolf when we have knife crime. We have the cycle whereby they claim that they're reducing the defect, yet they just lie and lie and their pockets get lined. We have the cycle whereby children die, and they won't do anything about it.
We feel hopeless, alone and angry because of them.
If you're young and have been poor for all the time you've known, of course you'll pounce at the chance to get out of poverty, to put food on the table and maybe have a nice watch. This is the opportunism the recruiters of gangs thrive on; for the young to be in poverty and know poverty.
I hope you label this government as criminals because they are killing us.
Our government won't do anything about it, I hope you will.