The death of ten year old Damilola Taylor, seventeen years ago this month, shocked and saddened his community and the whole country. It became one of the most high-profile crimes and sparked a long-overdue conversation about inner-city youth crime. But, as is often the case, in the midst of tragedy, those most closely affected memorialise those lost in the most inspiring way. And the Damilola Taylor Trust is doing just that…

As the anniversary draws near, the charity in staging the second ‘Damilola Taylor Memorial Lectures‘ in London. Designed to keep the issue of knife crime and its impact on the prospects of young people living in inner cities on the public agenda, this year’s theme is ‘creating alternative pathways for inner-city youth’.

The charity has begun crafting programmes created to support young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds, helping them with employability skills, training and jobs. The event is intended to appeal to UK businesses and charities to encourage connections with these programmes through work placements, internships and mentoring. The Damilola Taylor Trust charity firmly believes that these economic opportunities allow for more productive participation and integration into wider society than is currently fostered in inner-city communities.

The work of the Damilola Taylor Trust has never been more important. Knife crime is on the rise, and London (excluding The City) accounts for 30% of all national knife offences. Black and minority ethnic males aged 15-24 make up 50% of non-domestic knife related deaths meaning, sadly, the case of Damilola is not so rare. However, with the work the Damilola Taylor Trust is doing, we should start to see a change in this.

“The years don’t dull the pain and on this 17th anniversary year, its especially hard. I hope this memorial lecture can be a success in bringing people and organisations together and that by the 20th anniversary in 2020 we are able to achieve the dream of Our Loved Boy Dami and make the world a safe place.” – Mr Richard Taylor OBE, Damilola’s dad.

The event is sponsored by Vodafone and hosted by global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright. Both companies are thrilled to be involved. The cause is very close to Jon Shaw, Head of London Region at Vodafone’s, heart. His desire to keep youth violence on the agenda and to create a dialogue in local communities to address the problem is one of many reasons Vodafone feels lucky to be in a position to support the work of the Damilola Taylor Trust. Stephen Parish, the global chair of Norton Rose Fulbright, also hopes that the memorial lectures inspire the much-needed change and keep knife crime high on everyone’s agenda.

The loss of Damilola Taylor continues to resonate, and the work of the trust serves not only to keep his memory alive, but to fight the ingrained issues that led to, and continue to lead to, tragedy.

The event will take place at the offices of global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, London. More information about the work of the trust, established in 2001, can be found at www.damilolataylortrust.co.uk.

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Helena Vine is currently studying History at the University of Edinburgh, and loves anything making the world a better place.

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