A sobering experience of gangland

20th June 2008 at 01:00
A former New York gang member who almost lost his life on a Brooklyn street during a gangster-style shoot-out, aged 15, is helping the Department for Children, Schools and Families to tackle gang violence in English schools
A former New York gang member who almost lost his life on a Brooklyn street during a gangster-style shoot-out, aged 15, is helping the Department for Children, Schools and Families to tackle gang violence in English schools.

Hashim Garrett, who was left paralysed from the waist down, has already visited schools in London.

The department's own recent advice told teachers to seek advice before inviting in former gang members because it risked inadvertently promoting their lifestyles.

But it says Mr Garrett's experiences are far from glamorous.

The 33-year-old said he noticed signs of the spread of gang culture to the UK when he visited schools in London earlier this year. "The main difference is that in America we use guns, and in England knives are more prevalent," he said.

His recent visits were organised by Breaking the Cycle, a US charity aimed at stopping youth violence. Spokesperson Hans Voll said its visits to secondary schools were now booked up until November, and that he had also been asked to talk in some primaries.

Mr Garrett's advice to teachers is to be proactive rather than waiting until there is a fight in a school.

HOW NOT TO WRITE A CV

He may have won a pound;100,000 contract working for Sir Alan Sugar. But teachers and learning coaches in Wales plan to use the example of Lee McQueen (right), winner of the BBC reality show The Apprentice this year, as an example of how not to write a CV, as part of vocational training.

Mr McQueen was caught lying on his CV, which was littered with spelling mistakes. Ms Jen Denham, teacher and 14-19 learning coach at Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg in Barry, said few pupils understood what CVs were about, but being honest was important.

"We are here to help with literacy and numeracy problems," she added.

Photograph: Talkback

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