Blondy’s People … Dr Simon Harding

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Episode 22 of Blondy’s People has landed. I have had the opportunity to interview some epic people during the journey and make connections with some amazing people.

Today’s guest is none other than Dr Simon Harding.

But we will come to that.

At no point in her life did Blondy think that higher education, let alone university, was ever an option for her. Not just the fact that no one ever had a conversation with her about such things, no that’s just a small part of it. Blondy stopped attending mainstream education at aged 11. The two year before that she was hardly attending. The was placed in “Alternative learning centres” and that was probably one of the most damaging things to happen to her. Her education become irrelevant to many people, including Blondy herself. When most of the adults around her stopped caring about her education, stopped encouraging Blondy, it was very easy for her to give up all together.

Once school was not a consistent in Blondy’s life, she made her own consistency with the environment she had. And once no one belonged she was capable of academia she believed this also.

But as usual, people were wrong.

At about 21 Blondy decided that she wanted more. And she attended the local college, studying sociology. A few years later, she studied criminology and received a diploma, which was the first level of qualification she ever received as she had no GCSE’s.

And then I decided for myself that I would be getting a Degree. No one really encouraged me or told me I should. Most people, even as a young adult, didn’t think I would be able to. Not that I blame them. My dyslexia is severe at times (I am sure many of you notice wrong spellings and such in my blogs). As a young adult I was also unable to concentrate for long periods of time, so I get why you wouldn’t suggest university …. I guess.

During my studies I have come to adore certain professionals and will often go back to their written work when writing essays or even looking for answers to my own practice. People like David Howe, Carlene Firmin and Harry Ferguson are among my top 10.

I am one dissertation away from my MA. Me. Blondy. Can you believe it! My dissertation is looking at county lines and there is one person that will feature heavily throughout…..

Dr Simon Harding is my go-to for gang and youth violence research. They way he writes about gangs has always blown me away. If you ever want to gain a true representation of what gang culture feels like then I recommend his book“Street Casino”.

Simon is a Professor at University of West London, England. He currently works in the Research Centre for Cybercrime and Security and specialises in urban street gangs, dangerous dogs, acid attacks, hate crime and youth crime.

He has a wide range of practitioner and professional experience in crime reduction and community safety including working for the Home Office as Regional Crime Advisor (London). He has an extensive history in urban regeneration and criminology having worked on over 2,000 social housing estates in the UK. He has written and produced numerous community safety audits, strategies and reports and in 1999 was co-inventor of Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs).

Simon’s recent work has focused on urban street gangs in the UK. In 2005-08 he organised the Lambeth Gangs Commission and managed London’s largest anti-gangs project (The Phoenix Project). He was also involved in the London Five Borough Alliance Gangs project.

Since 2012 Simon has published four books, Unleashed: the phenomena of status dogs and weapon dogs (2012); Unleashed (2014) reprinted with new chapter; and his latest theoretical exposition on gang crime, The Street Casino: survival in violent street gangs (2014). This work was awarded the Frederick Milton Thrasher Award for 2014 for Superior Gang Research. Simons latest book is Harding, S. and Palasinki, M. (2016) Global Perspectives on Youth Gang

Simon is currently a Trustee for the charity Growing Against Violence, (GAV) and he travels extensively for international conferencing on gangs and group offending. ( https://www.uwl.ac.uk/users/simon-harding)

But also…

There was a short period of time when Simon and Blondy existed in the same world. Lived in the same area of SW London. Simon, spending his days observing the world around him, drinking in the drug deals and crimes that others chose to ignore, whilst Blondy was out there …. living in the environment her was observing.

Mad

So, when Dr Simon Harding agreed to be one of Blondy’s people it was almost as if I had come full circle.

And so, we sat, and we spoke, and we found that we had lots of things in common. More than just gang culture.

Dr Simon Harding is one of Blondy’s people because, as an adult I have noted that he has written about thing that others have chosen to ignore, he has implemented things that others either didn’t want to or didn’t know how. He has sat in a crack house to try and work out the structure of gangs. This man has done the groundwork and has gathered the information in such a way, its as if he were there with us,

Simon is also one of Blondy’s people because if Blondy was a child now, I believe professionals would be able to support her so much better if they read Simons books such as “Street Casino” and  “County Lines: exploitation and drug dealing among urban street gangs”.

Simon sent me his book on county lines (just as well, I need it as a core for my dissertation) and when I revived it her had written inside

“To Blondy,

It’s not where you start…. it’s where you finish”

Dr Simon Harding giving words of encouragement to Blondy…priceless

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