Willesden unites at Unity centre

12-year-old boy takes anti-gun and knife crime project to next stage

A COMMUNITY group fighting gun and knife crime organised its biggest event so far around an African-American festival.

The British Londoners Black Community (BLBC) invited children, parents and grandparents to the Unity Centre, in Church Road, Willesden, to celebrate Kwanzaa a festival that promotes a communitarian African philosophy.

The two-day event featured artists, speakers and workshops to inspire youths into making positive choices in life and act as positive role models.

Abena Bennett, one of the organisers, said: “It’s been fantastic, stressful but a good stressful. The joy is the children.

“I thought the kids were going to be running around but they were not they were focused and paying attention (to the speakers).”

BLBC was set-up in 2009 after Abena’s 12-year-old son, TJ Bennett-Dunn, and sister Sheneisha, 13, were worried about violence on the estates.

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TJ said: “I lived on an estate and there was always a lot of crime and gangs. Some people would stick up for you but were our friends and I didn’t want them to see them dead or in hospital.

“That’s why I wanted to set this up.”

The group believes children who socialise with their families are less likely to get involved in gangs.

After a series of meetings on troubled estates in Brent, TJ felt it was time to progress on to something bigger.

TJ said: “We wanted to have a celebration and thought Kwanzaa because we can learn from it.

“We want to make people realise there’s more to life than being a thug. They can be a doctor or a lawyer.”