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.


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“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.”

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