Who we are

Who we are

Gangs Unite CIC is a youth-focused social action group that aims to bring young people together along their common interests, and to help divert often violent energies toward self empowerment, social change, and unity.

We are building and nurturing the next generation of leaders through our innovative programs that nurture and develop the youth voice and promote positive social dialogue across boundaries of age, race, class, gender, culture, and sexual orientation. Throughout each facet of the organization, Gangs Unite encourages active literacy, honest self analysis, and critical thought.

The mission of Gangs Unite is to realize the potential of inner-city youth to build healthier and safer communities and schools. Our programs are based on the belief that urban youth represent a valuable, untapped resource and can significantly contribute to the rejuvenation of communities and local institutions.

Why us

Our Managing Director is a leading gang conflict specialist, youth activist and teacher on gang culture.

He is also a key source of intelligence and profiling of behavioural  patterns in young people, especially those involved or at risk of gang involvement.

The access we have to gang members and the role we play in aiding the reduction of gang affiliation and membership.

Why Gangs Unite

About the founder

EVERYONE HAS A STORY

Abour the Colin JamesHaving grown up in a broken dysfunctional household, with no Father and an often abusive mother, Colin found the early years of his life very hard, economically things were also tough, he couldn’t look to nothing other than a good square meal. There was no money for anything else.

Colin was a very confused and angry child, fighting was his pastime, he soon realised this was the one thing he was good at and quickly grew a reputation among his peers, Money was still so difficult to come by. From the age of eight he was often sent to deliver small packages to people in exchange for money. It wasn’t until he was eleven that he found out these packages contained cannabis. Once enlightened to this, life took a change for the better, he now had access to finance.

Colin was a bright young boy, but his temper got him into untold trouble at school, home and on the streets, but instead of deterring him he thrived off it because it made him more popular and got him the attention he so desperately craved. Life really changed for Colin at around fourteen, he was expelled from school and sent to a support centre, which he left because the streets were providing better enjoyment and opportunities to make money, he was now involved in all kinds of crime. He was so sought after, local businessmen used to make orders to him for stolen goods and he would always oblige them, burglary was now his full time profession, every morning like clockwork he would go and burgle a house, factory, petrol station anything, there was no fear.

The thrill of the chase, the excitement of living on the edge consumed him. At sixteen his mother decided to move for his safety, she was worried that the things he was getting into would end up killing him or see him go to prison for a long time. The move was a culture shock for Colin, he had made a substantial reputation for himself in Hackney, now he had to do the same in this new environment, Walthamstow.

Coming to Walthamstow was gradual because the lure of Hackney kept calling him, however he soon settled down and began to continue his trade in Walthamstow. Still in his sixteenth year Colin and some friends were involved in a fight which left a man fighting for his life, Colin his co-defendants was arrested for attempted murder.

The case against him wasn’t strong and he only served a little time on remand. This never deterred him, crime for him grew to armed robbery, again he was arrested, remanded, but was found not guilty. These warning never stopped him, he was a law unto himself, He continued to do street robberies and sell drugs to get money, again he was arrested, in fact many times, however always released, now he believed in his own hype. Three experiences of jail and still he wouldn’t learn. Colin finally went back to jail for eighteen months for GBH with Intent. He speaks very openly of his past cocaine and cannabis use, his owning of two guns, his acts of violence and total disregard to law and his open hatred of the Police. His life is very incident filled and this small write up of it wouldn’t do it any justice.

He says he had an experience with GOD and attributes his miraculous change to that event. Now he spends his life warning young people of the dangers of gangs, the streets, Police and the vicious cycle that their actions lead them into. Its a winding spiral of bad, worse and indescribable.
He recognises the situations young people find themselves in, he himself says he was a product of his environment, and so are many of today’s youth. Without the correct guidance, just like Colin, you become a law unto yourself, but like him its just a matter of time  before the walls come crashing down.
Colin is one of the most approachable human beings you can ever meet and once in his presence you soon realise he is very experienced and vastly knowledgeable and he is using this in his work to assist young people in their situations and to aid them unto bigger and better things. He believes too many young people are walking around with their eyes wide shut, living in one of the most disadvantageous times for them. They need help and he would do anything to get them that help.

In this arena, Colin is punching above his weight and the way he relates to young people is quite extra ordinary. He is a youth champion and activist, you see the passion in his eyes and in the way he goes about his work. He has done this for years unpaid, so that says a lot about the man called Colin James.

“I never chose to do this work, I was born to do it, to coin the phrase ‘who feels it knows it’, is an understatement. With the life I’ve lived, my experiences and views, its only right I use this to assist someone else. Young people need direction, support, understanding, because right now, the majority of them feel misunderstood, unheard and victimised without clear prospects for their futures. It is Time to change this”.

“Young people don’t need any more role models to look up to, they need role models they can look into. It’s about the life you live not the role you play, or the possessions you have”.

 Colin James

Our patron

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE IAIN DUNCAN SMITH MP

Iain Duncan Smith MPWe are very privileged to have as our Patron, ‘The RT Hon Mr Iain Duncan Smith MP’

His vast knowledge and commitment to the work with gangs is invaluable. He founded the Centre of Social Justice think tank, and understands the problems gangs and the culture brings to communities. He said:

“I established the Centre of Social Justice, to find new and effective approaches to tackling poverty and social exclusion, to champion the cause of our most disadvantaged communities and the generations left behind without aspiration or hope."

Mr Iain Duncan Smith also added:

“Tackling Britain’s violent gang culture was vital, and restoring the economy went hand in hand with restoring society.” 

We at Gangs Unite welcome him and are thankful to him for playing such a pivotal and important role in and on behalf of our Organisation. His input and assistance is invaluable and having the scope to draw regular counsel and support from him benefits us greatly.

“I am very proud to be a Patron of Gangs Unite. They are a remarkable new organisation which has been very effective in helping to pull gang members out and offer them an alternative to a life of crime” 

Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith announced he will push for more business and sport opportunities for young people escaping gang culture after visiting the new offices of the gang mediation organisation. The work and pensions secretary is Patron of Gangs Unite, a Community Interest Company based in South Grove, Walthamstow, which mentors around 60 to 70 young people through sport and  tailor-made behaviour modifying programs. Waltham Forest Council provided the  offices for the volunteer-run organisation after it previously worked on the streets of the borough.