June is the month of the Penge festival and I was very pleased to help open it at the Royston playing fields. There were some fantastic activities, rides, food, drink and as ever the Pengenista drummers. The festival has now been going for 47 years and is always a great way to celebrate Penge’s art, culture and history. Seeing the community come together and all of the other events over the festival's duration really make you feel proud to be a part of Penge.
In other news last month, I entered Penge’s Himalayan kitchen into the Tiffin Cup 2019 competition. The Tiffin Cup is an annual competition run by the Tiffin Club to find the best South Asian restaurant in the United Kingdom. Nominees are selected by their local MPs and one restaurant from every region is then shortlisted and invited to participate in the Grand Final cook-off event held in the House of Commons.
I am extremely pleased that the Himalayan Kitchen has made it through to the final. I’m really looking forward to seeing them in Parliament on the 2nd of July in a ‘Master Chef’ style cook-off between the other finalists judged by Ainsley Harriot. The team at the Himalayan Kitchen do such an amazing job and are a Penge institution so I look forward to being at the final and rooting for them.
Finally, last week I was very pleased to speak at the ‘Penge Matters’ event at Melvin Hall. The event was organised by the Metropolitan Police’s Youth Engagement team, Safer Neighbourhood team and local Councillors to bring residents together and discuss how to tackle youth violence and enhance the community in Penge. It was fantastic to see so many residents come together and have a positive discussion about what can be done.
Tackling youth violence and knife crime requires this kind of approach where you bring different interest groups together with the community to define the local problem, what it’s causes are and what interventions can help prevent it. I have long been calling for the Government to adopt this approach; a public health approach.
The Government has finally committed to having a public health approach, but this model means bringing together all services like the Police, Youth Services, Health, Education and Justice systems so that early intervention can take place. However, all these services have been hit hard by the Government’s austerity agenda over the last nine years.
As such, I fear that this is a public health approach in name only since the resources needed to fund these services properly are not forthcoming. I questioned the Home Secretary on this matter this month which you can see here: https://bit.ly/2NbjZ0v. To read about my work on this issue over the last few months please visit my blog post here: https://bit.ly/2YM08GX.