Beautician, 23, wants to bring respect back to Chadwell Heath community following Lyndon Davis fatal stabbing
PUBLISHED: 17:49 11 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:45 16 April 2018
A beautician who hanged out with gang members as a teenager wants to open a youth club to rebuild a community reeling from the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Lyndon Davis.
Leigh Harris was at home in Reynolds Court, Marks Gate, when she heard police on nearby Padnall Road not far from where Mr Davis was found with a stab injury on March 14.
Days later Miss Harris joined shocked neighbours at a meeting to discuss a spate of violence where she surprised herself by standing up and speaking out about her fears for the community she grew up in.
“There was talk of more police and CCTV, but not much said about how to change the way people live,” Miss Harris said.
The former pupil of The Warren School in Whalebone Lane North who went to a Dagenham youth club when she was a child, argued young people need somewhere to go.
And now her dream to see a club set up is a step closer after winning the backing of Chadwell Heath councillor Sade Bright and charity North Meets South.
“I never expected to stand up and say my piece. But I got all these feelings because I wanted to help,” she said.
She explained how when she was a teenager with nowhere to go she hanged around with gang members mixed up in petty crime.
On how crime has affected her, Miss Harris said: “When I was younger the neighbourhood felt safe. It was a happy place. But in six or seven years it has gone completely downhill.
“Parents are too scared to let their kids out. It’s a shame because it used to be really lovely. Something needs to be done now,” she added.
She said she wanted to bring young people’s respect for older people and older people’s respect for young people back.
“I can understand why young people are driven to crime. They come from broken homes. They have all this built up anger. I don’t want them to go down a bad path. Not all kids mixed up in crime are bad, they are just in the wrong situation,” she said.
This week Miss Harris – who studied beauty at Robert Clack School’s sixth form in Gosfield Road, Dagenham – has been dropping leaflets through neighbours’ doors, pinning posters on lampposts and chatting to youngsters she meets inviting them to a meeting to tell her what they want from a club before she applies for funding.
The Stand Up Speak Out meeting for 15-18-year-olds is this Friday, April 13 from 5.30 to 8pm at Marks Gate Community Centre in Rose Lane, Dagenham.
A 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder during the early stages of the Met’s investigation into Mr Davis’s death. A 17-year-old youth was arrested on April 1 while two youths aged 15 and 16 were arrested the following day.
All four were taken in for questioning before being bailed to return to east London police stations in mid-April.