Former gang member Eyev Swivelar: Do more to keep young people out of gangs in Barking and Dagenham

Louie Josia Maluka, 24

Louie Josia Maluka, 24 - Credit: Archant

As the extent of gang crime in Barking and Dagenham is revealed, the Post spoke to a former gang member about what can be done to keep young people away from violence.

Louie-Josia Maluka knows first-hand how easy it is for young people in Barking and Dagenham to become caught up with gangs.

The 24-year-old dad, who lives on the Gascoigne Estate in Barking, was involved with a gang for five years as a teenager. He believes tackling gang crime needs to start by giving young people role models.

“The problem is basically about self-confidence and how a person sees themselves,” he told the Post. “If we can find a way to lift up people’s confidence and bring the community together that will make everyone want to be proud of something.

“People won’t be scared of each other and want to attack each other.

“You need youth clubs but at the same time you can’t be having people who haven’t been through that lifestyle – people who haven’t lived in that environment. You need more people who have been through it, not someone coming from a posh background trying to explain to a youngster they shouldn’t be into this.

“You need to know what it’s like. Kids don’t relate to those types of people.”

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He added the closure of community centres in Barking and Dagenham could be partly to blame for the presence of gangs on the streets.

“There’s nothing for the community,” he said. “When I was growing up I had the Baseline [youth club] but now there’s nothing there – things are getting shut down.

“People like me are willing to help to make the place better but the problem is we don’t have the support of the government and the council.”

Louie-Josia – whose artist name is Eyev Swivelar – added: “Barking and Dagenham doesn’t have anything for the youth.”

He called on the council to put on more events to bring the community together – drawing comparisons with Hackney, which hosts a carnival every year.

“What I keep reading in the paper is the bad things,” he said, “but what about the solution?”

Eyev Swivelar’s audio book, Rich by 25, is due out later this year. Listen to a free eight-minute clip by clicking here.

Read more:

200 violent crimes committed by gang members in Barking and Dagenham since 2011