Harlesden teenager warns youths about the dangers of criminality

Teenager warns kids to chose friends wisely and get involved in positive activities

A YOUTH who was spared jail this Christmas after turning his life around warned others to do the same before it was too late.

Gavin Malone, 16, of Wendover Road, Harlesden, said kids need to chose their friends more wisely and get involved in some of the positive activities going on.

Gavin, who has just graduated from a Princes Trust scheme, is now set to start a dream two-year training course as a paramedic after being shown a way out of.

He said: “I nearly went to prison this Christmas for GBH and robbery. People do bad things because there mates do. You have to change your friends; you have to back down and stick up for yourself. They are not really your mates if they try and get you to do stuff.”

Gavin’s turnaround started after his probation officer took him to Kickz, the police’s football initiative in Harlesden, and Ray Patrick’s table tennis club at the Hub, in Hillside, Stonebridge.

Ray, who grew up in Shepherd’s Bush, did several stints in jail himself before reforming and helping gang members from the notorious Cribs and Bloods in LA out of their dead-end lifestyles.

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Back in the UK he continued his work giving youths something positive to do and helping those that want it a way out of crime.

He said: “People can’t escape because they can’t leave their area and postcode. There’s no recording studio or other things to do round here.

“So I just sit down with each of the kids and ask how they are doing and what their problems are.

“All of them have got major anger issues. Some have broken windows when they lose a game so we ban them for two weeks and slowly they learn to improve their attitude.”

Ray keeps in contact with the parents but said some are not around or just are not interested.

He said: “Some parents would rather watch Eastenders.”

Gavin, whose mum has been supportive, said his problems started after getting expelled from school and sent to a Pupil Referral Unit where he met his so-called friends.

He said: “I used to hang out on the streets in Wembley with my mates. They told me to do stuff I didn’t want to do and if I didn’t do it they would beat me up and nick my phone. Now they are all inside.”