Throughout the month of February, we’re telling the story of the 21 teenagers who were murdered in 2023. Our campaign, The 21, seeks to remember every victim as a young person with a family and their whole life ahead of them. We want to change the culture of kids carrying knives and becoming involved in violence.

An event held in Newham remembering the lives of people who have died by tragic circumstances successfully ran for its second year at the end of 2023.

The Table of Love and Loss event brings together the friends and families of people who have been taken by tragic circumstances, including stabbings, suicide, and domestic abuse.

December 2023 was the second of the events, after Ayse Hussein initially set the event up in 2022 in loving memory of her cousin Jan Mustafa, who was murdered in Newham.

Ayse told Newsquest London: “I was lying in bed one day and had an idea to hold a vigil in memory of my cousin.

“I came up with the idea of getting other families involved and speaking with them, so I thought of holding a table event.

Romford Recorder:

“We held the first one last December and it was supposed to be a one-off, but the Mayor said the event was so powerful and wanted it to become an annual event.”

Mihrican Mustafa, 38, known to loved ones as Jan, once worked as a waitress at West Ham’s football ground in Upton Park.

Romford Recorder: A treasured photograph of Ayse Hussein and her cousin Mihrican 'Jan' Mustafa A treasured photograph of Ayse Hussein and her cousin Mihrican 'Jan' Mustafa (Image: Ayse Hussein)

The mother-of-two was missing for almost a year before police stumbled upon her body in the home of a convicted sex offender, who officers were supposed to have been monitoring.

At the event, there were lots of organisations dedicated to providing support in a range of areas, including domestic abuse, mental health, suicide prevention, honour-based abuse, stalking, homicide, road rage, knife crime, substance misuse.

Romford Recorder:

The Table of Love and Loss event also saw a safeguard medical trainer, Grant Lewis, demonstrate how to save a person’s life using a bleed control kit and dummy.

Romford Recorder:

Ayse added: “I wanted to make sure everyone was included in the day, including the organisations, speakers, and the families.

“It’s lovely for all of the families to meet each other and find comfort in each other.

“Face-to-face is always important and you feel the emotional support from everyone else”.

Romford Recorder:

Speakers at the Table of Love and Loss event included host Anjim Mouj, Rokhsana Fiaz Obe, the Mayor of Newham; Isla Edwards, Detective Sergeant with the MPS; Claire Waxman OBE, Victims’ Commissioner for London; Lejla Dauti, the founder and director of Lejla Please Tell My Story, and Quinton Milsie, Professional Youth Mentor and Spoken Word.

Romford Recorder: One organisation at the event was a charity called SAMM – a service which provides a range of support services to those who have lost loved loves by murder and manslaughter.

The services are open to everyone, regardless of how long ago they died, and are available across the UK.

Close relatives, wider family members and bereaved friends can access the services, and they have been designed to support the bereaved to meet a persons’ emotional support needs.

Joanne Early, CEO of SAMM, has dedicated ten years to supporting the bereaved, after her son was killed in 2008.

She realised how “impactful” it was to talk to others with similar experiences.

Romford Recorder: Joanne told Newsquest London: “We’re unique in the fact that all of our volunteers are bereaved themselves.

“So, you can talk to someone who has been through similar experiences.”

SAMM has been running for 32 years and was set up by families in the first place, and offers three-day workshops, pop-up cafes and individual support.

All volunteers at SAMM receive bespoke training and have been bereaved through homicide themselves.

Joanne added: “We do also provide practical support for when families are liaising with social services, or are attending a hearing, because you need support around that time.

“You can dip in and out of our services.

“Since Covid the need of our services have increased, and we see a lot more people coming through the door.”