Harold Hill residents plan music festival to encourage young people away from knife crime

Residents are planning to hold The Harold Hill Festival in Central Park on September 7: Picture: Alex Vella / Steve Poston

Residents are planning to hold The Harold Hill Festival in Central Park on September 7: Picture: Alex Vella / Steve Poston - Credit: Archant

A group of Harold Hill residents hoping to “bring the community together” are organising a festival for young people in the borough.

Following the tragic death of Jodie Chesney, a 17-year-old Scout leader who was stabbed to death in Amy’s Park in St Neots Road on March 1, a group of residents are organising a festival to encourage young people away from knife crime.

The Harold Hill Festival is set to take place in Central Park, Gooshays Drive with a range of stalls and musical acts on September 7.

Justin Vella, along with his wife Alexandra Vella, councillor Jan Sargent, cllr Paul McGeary and Martin Kenyon are dedicated to providing activities for young people in Harold Hill.

“I had the idea to organise a music festival to raise funds for youth projects,” said Justin.

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“A recording studio is one of the aspects we would like to develop as we see a lot of teenagers freestyling these days so we thought not get them in the studio and showing them what they can do.

“We want young people to know that we’re a community - so be part of it and don’t segregate yourself.”

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As soon as the event was launched on Facebook, Justin said it “exploded”.

“Everyone wants to be a part of it,” said the father-of-four.

“I knew people in the community would get behind it but the amount of people who want stalls - it’s amazing. It’s just fantastic.”

Cllr Sargent from the Independent Residents’ Group added that the parks events manager and logistics team at Havering Council were supporting the project.

She said: “We’re in the process of meeting with all the different youth providers in the borough because there are people who aren’t aware of what activities are available for young people.

“Because the Christmas lights switch on was such a success, we’re also hoping to incorporate similar stalls including, crafts and charity stalls.

“I think because of the recent horrific events with the death of Jodie Chesney, there’s been a heightened awareness of the need to engage with young people.

“We want [the festival] to be a really happy and positive event that will allow us to raise funds at the same time.”

Speaking about the idea of a festival, Justin said: “Music brings people together.

“It’s a great way to bring lots of people together in one place to raise money for these kids.”

To find out more visit The Harold Hill Facebook page or follow this link if you would like to book a stall or to participate.

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