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Ben is founder of Power The Fight, a new charity which launched in January 2019 to train and empower communities to end youth violence.
One of The Evening Standard’s Progress 1000 London’s most influential people for 2018, Ben is an experienced trainer and facilitator with more than 19 years spent working with high risk young people in the field of gangs and serious youth violence.
Ben began his career developing programmes in some of the most challenging estates in London (Brixton, Clapham and Lewisham). In 2003 he became a learning mentor at a primary school in the borough of Lewisham, South East London before joining the Lewisham Youth Offending Service, where he worked in a number of roles, including leading the early intervention team.
While at Lewisham, Ben developed several successful programmes including the ground-breaking knife crime prevention programme Double Edge for offenders of knife crime, which was featured in the ‘Gang and Group Offenders – A Practitioner’s Handbook of Ideas & Interventions’ published by the London Criminal Justice Board.
In 2010 Ben developed the gangs and serious youth violence strategy for Camden Council and then went on to work for the mental health charity MAC-UK leading their mini mac project.
Ben was Chair of the Greenwich Independent Advisory Group until 2016. Between 2016 -2020, Ben was lead pastor at Emmanuel New Cross in South East London. He currently sits on the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s Violence Reduction Unit reference group and on the cross-party Youth Violence Commission.
His first book, the No1 Bestseller, ‘We Need To Talk About Race – Understanding the Black Experience in White Majority Churches‘ was released in July 2019 through SPCK Publishing.
Winnie is a Clinical Psychologist with extensive experience carrying out psychological assessment and treatment for a wide range of mental health problems across inpatient and outpatient settings. She has worked with children, adolescents and adults with a wide range of difficulties including, but not limited to, depression and anxiety related disorders, stress related difficulties, bereavement and post traumatic stress.
Yasmin has over 10 years experience in the charity sector, with a particular focus on empowering and mentoring young people within communities. Previously she has created and delivered an initiative to support mental and emotional wellbeing to at risk young women in schools. In the last 3 years she has served as a coach and public speaker to equip victims of trauma and those who are vulnerable to CSE. Underpinning this Yasmin has extensive capabilities for organisation and administration and was previously an EA to senior leaders of a network for churches, charities and organisations.
Yasmin believes in the value of young people and desires to see them reach their full potential, irrespective of their background or circumstance. With the help and support of an empowering community, she believes this can be achieved and is excited to outwork the vision of Power the Fight.
Senior Clinical Psychologist
Dr Richard Grove is a Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years experience working creatively within the NHS to adapt psychological therapies to meet the needs of those who are disenfranchised and marginalised. He completed his doctoral thesis examining attitudes and behaviours towards people with intellectual disabilities and he has a keen interest in examining the roots of social injustice and working to promote systemic change. Over the past 5 years he was the lead psychologist for a co-produced project working with young people affected by community violence. As part of this work he also helped design and develop services within the NHS and wider system that promote trauma-informed practice, including a specialist prison in-reach project and trauma-informed reflective practice for police officers.
Senior Youth Practitioner
An advocate for community empowerment, policy and systems change, Jessica has built trusted relationships with individuals across a range of settings. She has provided psychological support to refugee and asylum-seeking people, survivors of trafficking and young people at risk of exploitation, as well as frontline practitioners within voluntary and statutory organisations.
Jessica has a particular interest in social justice, anti-racist and community psychology approaches, having observed the impact that wider socio-cultural, political and economic structures can have on individual mental health outcomes. As a result, she is vocal about the importance of promoting systemic change to improve psychological wellbeing.
Jessica’s recent work has focused on addressing the impact of structural inequality upon young people, platforming the voices of those with lived experience through embedding co-production. She has led on anti-racism work across organisations, with her MSc thesis focused on the experiences of young Black adults who grew up in predominantly white areas.
Michael heads up high-value partnerships at homelessness charity, Shelter, building relationships with businesses, trusts and high-net-worth supporters. Previously, Michael was Director of Responsible Business at professional services firm Deloitte, and also spent five years in the corporate fundraising team at youth charity The Prince’s Trust.
Early on in Michael’s career, he launched the UK’s first youth-led radio station, in a bid to tackle rising levels of youth violence. Reprezent runs training programmes for young people, while giving them a platform to influence policymaking and challenge perceptions.
Actor and Singer
Antonia Laura Thomas is an English actress and singer. She is best known for her roles as Alisha Daniels in the E4 comedy-drama series Misfits and having a recurring role as Dr Claire Browne in The Good Doctor. She spends up to half the year living in Canada, where the series is filmed. Antonia most recently played Gretl Logan in Steve McQueen’s acclaimed TV series ‘Small Axe’ in the Red, White and Blue episode alongside John Boyega. The episode depicted the life of Black police officer Leroy Logan who featured in Season 2 Episode 7 of our PowerTalk series. We are so excited to have Antonia on board partnering with us to help communities end youth violence, as a great role model and someone with a passion for the future of our youth.
Antonia said: “I’m excited to support this excellent charity. With knife offences increasing to the highest number since 2011, the work Power The Fight do is needed now more than ever. Together we can empower communities to end violence that affects young people.”
You can stay up to date with Antonia on her instagram: @althomas1
Ellena Valizadeh is an Advisory Teacher for children with physical and medical needs in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Ellena has spent the last 15 years working as a teacher in secondary schools across London.
Claude was Head of Mentoring and Chief Safeguarding Officer at XLP. He now works in the youth offending service.
Martin Griffiths is a consultant trauma surgeon at the Royal London Hospital. He is the health service’s first clinical director for violence reduction.
Justin Finlayon is CEO of United Borders. UnitedBorders is a music education charity which promotes mentoring, training and creativity for young people.
Talia is founder of Youth Realities, an educating and empowering youth-led organisation based in London, tackling teenage abusive relationships. Youth Realities is for young people, by young people.
Youth Realities focuses on the root causes of abuse within teenage relationships. They address why the situation has occurred, breaking the cycle of abusive behaviours and tackling the systems that fuel them through different innovative platforms. Youth Realities are working on the ground with young people aged between 11-25, with awareness raising, mentoring and support work, outreach projects, training and self development programmes.
Dr Grace Robinson is a research assistant within the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Leeds and Managing Director of criminal justice consultancy, Black Box Research and Consultancy Ltd. Grace formally was Programme Leader of Criminology at Blackpool and The Fylde College. Grace has a history of working in the Youth Justice System. She recently completed her PHD to become Doctor of Philosophy focused on gangs, violence and exploitation at Edge Hill University.
Professor Carlene Firmin, MBE joined the Department of Sociology at the University of Durham in 2021. Previously Carlene was a Principal Research Fellow for The International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking for the University of Bedfordshire, where she developed and led the Contextual Safeguarding and peer-on-peer abuse research programmes at the University.
Carlene is a social researcher, concerned with safeguarding young people, social justice and inequality, with a particular expertise in the field of violence and abuse between young people.
Carlene was awarded an MBE in the 2011 New Year Honours for “services to girls’ and women’s issues” and was the youngest Black woman to have received this honour.
Pastor Efrem leads Ecclesia Church in Lewisham SE London and leads UMS Lewisham, an independent school that helps young people aged 11-16 who are at crisis in their educational experience.
Jasmine Dotiwala is a British broadcaster, producer, director and columnist. Currently Jasmine is Head Of Youth Media at Media Trust. Jasmine also hosts regular on-screen Arts & Culture reports for Channel 4 News. She is also a regular pop culture pundit for platforms like SKY News, Metro online and London Live. She spoke at the House Of Lords on media subjects around inclusivity and diversity in 2017 and in 2018 was requested to give evidence at House Of Commons to MPs for the Youth Violence Commission around their 2018 campaign.
Caroline is the Director of Chalk Lab, a consultancy that specialises in strategic design and collaborative initiatives to help churches and charities positively impact communities. Previously, Caroline was on the leadership team of London City Mission. She has also worked for the Mayor of London at City Hall, building partnerships between the public and private sector in the Commercial Partnerships team and on the London 2012 City Operations programme. Caroline has a passion to see families and whole communities flourish especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Phill Gray is the COO for Care for Children, a global charity which partners with governments (mainly in Asia) to help create a positive alternative to institutional care through local family based care for disadvantaged children.
Phill has over 30 years of operations experience in both the commercial and non-profit sectors, which include organisations such as HSBC through to heading up Newday, a Christian youth festival gathering over 7,000 young people aged between 12-19 from across the UK and Europe. Phill has a heart to see young people encouraged, equipped, empowered and protected in order to fulfil God’s plan for their lives.
Emily was the Head of Advocacy for the Christian fostering and adoption charity Home for Good. Before working for Home for Good Emily ran the busy Westminster office of an MP and led his re-election campaign for the 2017 General Election. Emily has a background working with children and young adults with additional needs and during her time in Westminster co-founded a cross-sector commission aimed at making the world a more autism-friendly place. She is passionate about using political advocacy and campaigning to see systems of injustice, disparity and oppression dismantled and to see the most vulnerable in society placed at the centre of decision-making.
Hannah Bourazza has over 30 years’ youth work experience, previously working as a Drug & Alcohol Counsellor for Lewisham DAAT. She managed the London mentoring project in Lewisham for 4 years and was responsible for all of XLP’s mentoring projects whilst being Chief Safeguarding Officer for the charity. Hannah now works in a school. Her passion is to empower disadvantaged young people to recognise their potential, to give them opportunities to broaden their life experiences, and to support them to embrace the positive things that life has to offer them.
Adeleka has a Diploma in Integrative Therapeutic Counselling and is a member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). She also has over 15 years’ experience working with the most vulnerable children, young people and families impacted by adverse childhood and traumatic experiences.
Adeleka uses a person-centered and psychodynamic approach with a natural authentic style. She offers a safe and trusting environment to support individuals, to talk about thoughts, feelings or concerns that may be challenging or difficult to work through.
It is important for Adeleka to work within a holistic approach with the individual’s presenting needs at the forefront of her practice. She aims to support her clients to gain awareness, enhance self-esteem and seek appropriate solutions where possible.
Dr Elaine Williams is a researcher and lecturer in Criminology at the University of Greenwich. She has a cross-discipline background in Anthropology, Sociology and Cultural Studies and her ESRC-funded PhD considered the politics of ‘knife crime’ in the context of deviance labelling. She is a critical criminologist, researching youth crime policy, politics and economics with a history of professional practice in youth and community development.
Elaine is also the author of ‘Rethinking Knife Crime: Policing, Violence and Moral Panic?‘
Ruth is the Director of 0-25 years ministry for All Saints Peckham.
Femi is one of the youth pastors at Jubilee Church London and a member of the Jazz band Ezra Collective.
Henna Shah is an Activist and represents the organisation Charity So White who have a vision of a charity sector that is taking the lead on tackling and rooting out racism. They want to see a shift in fundamental structures across the charity sector, where the sector, leaders and decision-makers reflect the communities that they work with.
Dez Brown, is CEO and Founder of Spark 2 Life. He is also the author of the book ‘Convicted or Condemned?’
Lib Peck is a British politician. Currently she is Director of the Violence Reduction Unit at City Hall. Previously, she was the Leader of Lambeth Council.
Ibrahim is a 20 something digital entrepreneur and co-founder of GUAP, which has grown from the world’s first video magazine to becoming a multi platform youth media brand, covering all aspects of creativity and culture. GUAP produces content (both in print & online), events and has a youth co-creation agency.
Aika founded Just for Kids Law with Shauneen Lambe in 2006. She is a solicitor and youth justice expert with years of experience representing young people in criminal proceedings and particularly those with Special Educational Needs. Since April 2017 she has led the organisation’s criminal work after Just for Kids Law was awarded its first criminal legal aid contract. Previously, Aika worked for nine years as a youth specialist at a busy West London firm Lawrence & Co before joining Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors in 2014, where she ran their youth team as well as heading up programmes at Just for Kids Law.
After launching antiyouthviolence.com and engaging over 10,000 young people and pupils per year Ray’s journey of becoming a Desistance & Behaviour Management Practitioner took flight. By delivering groundbreaking interventions in Schools .Youth Offending Teams, Children’s Secure Units and Prisons his vision of reducing youth violence took his work regionally, nationally and internationally. After becoming a prolific Public Speaker, Trainer & Seminar Leader, Ray launched ‘Gangology’ a CPD workforce development programme for practitioners working with young people at risk of life threatening behaviour relating to Gun,Knife & Gang Culture. This groundbreaking program has been delivered in partnership with Youth Offending Teams, Probation, Social Services, Prisons, Children Secure Units and YOI’S. Today, Ray is seen as one the UK’s leading thinkers and doers around reducing Gang & Serious Violence.
Theresa Lola is a British Nigerian poet and writer. She was joint winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. In April 2019, she was announced as the 2019 Young People’s Laureate for London.
TJ Koleoso is a youth worker and bassist from the jazz group Ezra Collective.
Leroy Logan is a former superintendent in the Metropolitan police. He retired in 2013 after 30 years’ service. He is also a former chair of the Black Police Association Charitable Trust.
John Sutherland joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 1992, rising quickly through the ranks with many highlights – including commanding armed sieges, saving lives and helping to take dangerous people off the streets. He has previously been Borough Commander for Islington, Camden and Southwark. In early 2013, John suffered a breakdown and consequent battle with depression. He has written a book about his illness and recovery where he offers a personal insight into what it is to be a police officer in Britain today called Blue – Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces.
Ebinehita is a youth practitioner with experience of co-producing projects and activities with young people and professionals. She works with young people who are in or have experience of Health and Justice services. She also founded Milk and Honey offering young women a creative and expressive safe space for young women to thrive and take ownership of H.E.R (Healing, Empowerment and Resilience). As well as working at Juvenis and MAC-UK, Ebinehita is currently training at IATE as a Child and Adolescent therapeutic wellbeing practitioner.
Craig Pinkney is a Criminologist, Urban Youth Specialist, Lecturer and one of the UK’s leading thinkers/doers in Responding to Gangs & Serious Youth Violence. Academically Craig holds, a BA (Hons) in Youth & Community Development, PG Cert in Teaching and Learning, Master’s degree in Criminology and is currently undertaking his PhD in Social Science.
Craig Pinkney has over 15 years experience as an outreach worker, transformational speaker, gang exit strategist, mediator, mentor and filmmaker. Craig Pinkney is well known for working with some of the cities most challenging young people, potentially high-risk offenders, victims of gang violence and youth who are deemed as hard to reach.
Through mentoring, discussion, advocacy, sport, media, film and faith based interventions. Craig aims to give a platform to young people, which he believes will raise attainment and to promote positive social change. Craig Pinkney also is a lecturer in Criminology at (University College Birmingham), specialising in Crime and Justice, Youth Violence, Urban Street Gangs, Trauma and Black Men’s Desistance.
Lawrence Russell is an Operational Manager for Lewisham Youth Offending Service. He is the lead for group work, trauma informed interventions and staff development on understanding the nature, impact and consequences of online activity on young people.
Lawrence has developed a number of group work programmes, which are currently being evaluated by South Bank University.
Parish Priest, Brixton; Southwark Diocese Director of Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation.
Owen leads Beacon Church, author of the booking Crossing The Divide and is on the Newday management team. Newday is one of the largest Christian events for young people that takes place in the UK every year.
Amani Simpson was stabbed seven times when he intervened in a friend’s dispute over stolen goods that quickly escalated out of control and saw him confronted by a 20-strong gang.
Now a motivational speaker and community worker Amani Simpson leads Aviard Inspires, a youth-led organisation with an ever-growing passion for helping other young people reach their full potential.
His first film, Amani, based on his life has just been released.
Whitney is the founder and CEO of Project 507 Limited, a social enterprise that was established to change systemic conditions that generate violence by developing innovative solutions to create positive peace.
She has over 15 years experience as a frontline practitioner in the youth violence sector and works from a trauma-informed perspective, with training from the Tavistock and Portman Clinic. She is a senior associate member of the Association for Psychodynamic Practice and Counselling in Organisational Settings and a British Psychoanalytical Counsel Trainee. Whitney is also a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies, studying for a MSc in Political Economy of Violence, Conflict and Development.
Jeronne is the youth pastor for Emmanuel Pentecostal Church, SE London.
Leo is the youth pastor for Jubilee Church Enfield and is responsible for over 200 young people who attend the church.
Joe is a pastor at Kings Church London and is part of the Newday team. Newday is one of the largest Christian events for young people that takes place in the UK every year.
Andrez Harriott is a musician and youth justice practitioner who is committed to supporting transformation in the lives of vulnerable and often misunderstood young people. Andrez is Director of The Liminality Group and is a member of the renowned British RnB group Damage. He has spent in excess of 10 years working within the Youth Justice sector to support young people experiencing significant challenges.
Digital Content Lead & Youth Practitioner
For the past 6 years Yasmin has built her own online platform dedicated to uplifting and inspiring the community. Yasmin has developed a merchandise line, hosted events and presents her radio show on Foundation FM. Yasmin is also a youth mentor and has worked with a variety of charities in her local community delivering mentorship programmes for high risk students in schools.
Eberechi Oluchi Eze is an English professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Premier League club Crystal Palace.
We are so happy to have Ebere partnering with us to help reach a wider audience and spread awareness on youth violence. Having grown up locally he knows the struggles some of our young people face and is a great example of what can happen when you have the right support and people around you.
Ebere said : “I grew up in Greenwich and there are the nice parts and the not so nice parts. I grew up in a not so nice part. It wasn’t the easiest life and you don’t have as much as other kids around you. Having the cage after school was where I got to focus on my football. The work Power The Fight is doing is important and I’m happy to be involved to give back to those that are in a similar position to what I was in.”
You can stay up to date with Ebere: @ebere10.
Rapper, Author and Broadcaster
Isaac Borquaye, better known as Guvna B, is a rapper, author and broadcaster from London. He has released 10 albums, 2 books and has produced segments for the BBC and a football pundit for Sky Sports News’ Good Morning Transfers.
Guvna B said: “I know countless people that have been affected by youth violence. It happens so much that I worry we can become desensitised but youth violence is one thing that should never be normal. The only thing more heartbreaking than losing a young life, is if it could have been prevented. I support Power The Fight because they get their hands dirty and together, I’m hoping we can contribute to a safer society where young people can thrive.”
We are looking forward to having Guvna B on board to continue the fight against youth violence. To keep up to date with him you can follow his instagram: @guvnab
Grace is an Art Therapist with over 16 years’ experience in mental health provision for young people and adults in statutory, community and charitable organisations. She has worked within inner-city London schools for over 10 years, including a Children’s Centre providing early intervention for children and families experiencing complex and developmental trauma, mental distress and bereavement, including families from refugee backgrounds. Grace strives for the language and culture of Art Therapy services to be creative and inclusive. She has developed a broad range of client-centred approaches and practices to reflect the cultural and social diversity of the people who engage in services. Grace is highly committed to respectfully meeting the needs of young people and families with an open and flexible attitude.
Dr Nicky Thomas is a Consultant Health Psychologist within the Departments of Haematology and Therapies at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals Foundation Trust (GSTT) and has recently retired as Head of Psychological Services at this trust and as Honorary Lecturer in health psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London.
Dr Thomas started a specialist health psychology service for people with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in 1997, which was the first of its kind in the country and was subsequently expanded to provide health psychological input for medical haematology and haemophilia patients. Dr Thomas has specialist experience in the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the management of pain in sickle cell disease. Her other clinical and research interest areas include; pain management; coping with haemophilia and other long-term conditions and cultural awareness training. She has been a speaker at international conferences for the British Psychological Society, British Society for Haematology and at the Sickle Cell Disease conference in the USA.
In 2013, Dr Thomas received an Outstanding Contribution Award from the British Psychological Society for her contribution to the field of Health Psychology Practice.
She is currently a Consultant Health Psychologist on the Infected Blood Inquiry as an expert contributor on the psychosocial working group.
Head of Training and Programmes
Laura has 10 years of experience in supporting young people affected by youth and gendered violence, as well as the professionals working with them. In recent years Laura has also developed training materials and programmes which she has delivered to professionals and community organisations. Laura has experience of embedding a contextual approach to safeguarding within an organisation and has been able to share examples of best practice in this area as part of the Contextual Safeguarding Network’s Voluntary & Community Services Collective. Laura’s work has been shaped by Solution Focused and Trauma-Informed practices and she cares deeply about young people’s participation, ensuring that services are shaped by young people to effectively meet their needs.
Head of Operations
Claire has almost 20 years’ experience working with children, young people and their families, with a particular focus on gangs and young offenders in some of the most deprived areas in London. Claire has a law degree and qualified as a barrister in 2001, being called to the Bar for England and Wales. She decided not to practice as she wanted to be at the core of prevention, and it was then that she started her role with the Youth Justice Board.
Claire’s motivation for making and seeing change resulted in her leading several services for the charity Catch22 over a number of years, working alongside Hackney YOS, the Metropolitan Police and the Youth Service, whilst also leading the Pupil Referral Unit in Clapton for the Learning Trust. Claire decided to branch out and work with the national children’s charity School-Home-Support as Assistant Director of School Services, with a clear focus on getting children of primary school age in school and ready to learn. Claire then moved on to a national social justice charity, NACRO, leading a team of specialist legal advisers to support employers to recruit ex-offenders, before she joined HCT Group as Head of Community Transport and Stakeholder Engagement in 2014, a leading national transport social enterprise. Here Claire developed her commitment to making a difference and secured numerous contracts to be able to provide a service to a range of client groups across several London boroughs.
In 2020 an opportunity arose for Claire to work with the Partnership Board as a Strategic Manager at Pimlico Million, a resident-led funding and community development organisation, funded by the Big Local. Having spent almost one year as a freelance worker, she made the decision to return back to what she loved and where she started: in the young people’s sector with Power the Fight as Head of Operations.
Dr Dawn Cutler is a Clinical Psychologist with over 14 years experience. Dawn specialises in work with children, young people and parents and has additional training in family work and in narrative therapy. For the last five years she has worked at a specialist children’s hospital. Prior to this Dawn worked for almost 10 years in community CAMHS teams in central London; she developed services and training in schools and children’s centres as part of her work in these roles. Dawn’s experience includes the strategic development of services both within the NHS and in partnership with communities and charities.
Steve is Head of Accountancy and Consultancy Services at Stewardship. He writes and provides advice on charity finance and governance. He is a trustee for a number of charities and has been involved in various church leadership roles over 25 years.
Tristan Newman is the Executive Pastor of Kings Church London, a diverse multisite church in South East London with over 2000 members. Sitting on the Senior Leadership Team he is responsible for the operational and financial arm of the church, leading both of these teams.
Prior to joining Kings in 2013 Tristan had a successful career in the UK retail sector, working within Moss Bros Group Plc’s Head Office for 15 years. Tristan was Senior Operational Team as the Head of Customer Services and Retail Operations Manager, overseeing the running and delivery of service quality to over 140 stores nationwide. During this time he gained a wide range of cross-departmental experience, from Audit to Business Development through to heading up their National Hire Distribution Service.
Tinashe is a senior lawyer with over 15 years’ experience advising developers, international banks, development finance institutions, private equity funds and state-owned enterprises in complex, cross-border transactions. Tinashe is the General Counsel at an international financier, he takes charge of all structuring, documentation as well as regulatory and governance matters and policies and procedures.
Tinashe has previously worked for leading legal practices at Allen & Overy, Norton Rose Fulbright and Trinity International LLP, where he advised clients on a range of financings, including project financing, trade and commodities financing and off-grid power development.
He is a director of the International Lawyer’s for Africa (ILFA), a multi-award-winning international training programme for African lawyers.
Temi Mwale is the Founding Director of The 4Front Project, a youth-led social enterprise on a mission to empower young people and communities to live free from violence. The 4Front Project addresses violence by creating bespoke, youth-led interventions that are delivered in community, educational and criminal justice settings.
Temi is an LSE Law Graduate, who has been acknowledged for her campaigning and frontline work with young people. She is committed to global peace-building and empowering a generation to challenge and disrupt the systems that generate violence locally, nationally and internationally.