Shepherd's Bush is not so much a community as a collection of communities. Our diversity makes us an interesting place to live, but how and where do the distinct groups that make up our neighbourhood actually engage with one another?
One place where many people of very different backgrounds come together regularly is at St Stephen's church on the Uxbridge road, where a diverse congregation is welcomed under its broad tent. Local speakers are encouraged to talk about their work, and this sunday local resident Danny Kruger took the microphone, to introduce his charity Only Connect, which aims to help local kids choose a crime-free life.
Danny spoke passionately about the charity he founded with his wife back in 2006. Its purpose to help local people make better choices in life, and in particular to avoid falling into a life of crime. So, what do they do exactly, and how do they do it?
What is Only Connect?Only Connect is a creative criminal justice charity, rooted in the local community. Their vision is of "a connected society", where local citizens "choose a crime free life".
Only Connect work in schools, in prisons and on the streets "to deliver projects that build relationships, grow skills and cut crime". The focus of their work is "innovation to prevent first-time offending and reduce re-offending". They believe in the idea of "Handshake, not Handout". This means their Members are "enabled to design and deliver solutions to their own problems, and problems faced by other Members and their peers across London".
What is their purpose?
Only Connect aim to equip a generation of people with the resilience and skills to address the challenges they face, and become positive agents for change in their communities". The idea is that they should become "assets not liabilities" for London.
Only Connect work in two ways. Firstly, they "provide young people at risk and ex-offenders with membership of one of their unique clubs in central and west London".
The clubs support members to support themselves, unlocking their potential through training, support and creative opportunities. This involves a good deal of one-on-one mentoring, showing ex-offenders a path to a crime-free life.
Secondly, they "deliver creative criminal justice projects in the community, engaging at every point in the crime cycle in order to reduce offending". They "see the people they work with as assets not liabilities, with a contribution to make to their families, communities and wider society".
Danny Kruger is Chief Executive of Only Connect. He set up the charity with his wife Emma in 2006 and came on board full time in 2008. Danny read History at Edinburgh University and received a DPhil in History from Oxford University in 2000.
Before working at Only Connect Danny was Director of Studies at the Centre for Policy Studies, Chief Leader-Writer at The Daily Telegraph, and Special Adviser to David Cameron MP as Leader of the Opposition.
To find out more about Only Connect, and even to get involved in the work that they do, follow this link to their official website.