I first got involved with Abianda on a project they were running called Project Voice. The project was about hearing young women’s views as to why they might find it difficult getting into employment. Once that project ended I was introduced to Abianda Young Trainers. At first I wasn’t sure what it was. But I gave it a go and as I got more involved I learned so much more and I realised that this is definitely a path I would like to work in and expand in the future.
As a Young Trainer we deliver seminars to professionals working with young women who have been affected by gangs. We offer information such as what stops young women from engaging, how they end up in a gang, and how to engage with the young women. I’ve built up skills, my confidence, speaking to professionals and being able to present a seminar without feeling intimidated.
It’s different to other work I have done – we are changing professional’s approach and way of engaging young women. From a female that has experienced some sort of gang affiliation, it’s very beneficial to the professionals to hear from a young woman who has been affected previously. Abianda comes with the approach that they don’t ask young women to talk about their personal stuff. This is good because it helps young women to be able to trust them in their own time, when they are ready without feeling pressured.
The best thing is working flexibly and meeting professionals. But the main best thing is being an ex-affiliated young woman helping current gang-affiliated young women out there. Because they think that there is nothing out there for them, but we are letting them know they can do anything they choose to do.
My own views on females in gangs has changed. I never really thought about it, or the approach to take. Even being gang-affected I never really thought about it deeply. I thought I was lucky to get away from it – but it depends on the professionals and people around you. I wouldn’t give up on another young woman now.
I hope to make our work worldwide, and have all professionals working with our knowledge, and our training to be on university and schools curriculums. I’ve learnt that I can do so much more than I thought I could. It’s good for me because it gives me the courage and confidence to expand my knowledge and share and to keep on educating myself and build an empire!! I might be 60 when it happens, but it will happen!