Fathers Against Violence (FAV), based in Moss Side in Manchester, empowers men to give children someone to turn to for encouragement and guidance.
Please note that you may find some content in this story shocking and distressing.
Fathers Against Violence provide support to young, disadvantaged people so that even the most vulnerable can develop self-confidence and self-esteem.
Founder of the group, James Gregory, received an Outstanding Social Behaviour Award for Peace in 2009. Of FAV, he said: “I launched Fathers Against Violence to mark what would have been my son Guiseppe’s 18th birthday on the 31st January 2011. He was 16 when he was shot in the head in May 2009 by a 15-year-old boy. Through the following months and the trial that followed I realised that I did not know as much as I thought about my son, and that there is a greater role for fathers to play in their family’s lives and in the lives of young men as they grow up in our city.
“Guiseppe’s life ended, and my life and the life of the young man who committed the act were changed forever. He was the last to be shot in this area and my hope is that I can now use this devastating event to prevent this type of thing from happening again.
“With the support of the local community and a group of hard-working volunteers I now run a range of activities for young people which allow them to do something positive rather than hanging around in gangs. We give them choices and help them build strengths which can help them say no to gangs and violent culture. We help them to see that they can build their own opportunities and that there is a future for people who have little money and little of anything else. We also provide activities where fathers can bond with their children and where children can talk to male role models where they don’t have any in their everyday lives.”
Fathers Against Violence have built a weekly football club and Colin Garrett, their Head Coach, gained his qualifications thanks to FAV after getting out of prison and wanting to better his life.
Of the group, Colin said: “I have volunteered for FAV for over two years as their main coach. I first met James Gregory when I just moved to Manchester to make a new life. When I was younger I got myself into a lot of trouble that led me to prison at the age of 15. When I got out I decided I wanted to change and get into coaching football. I gained qualifications in coaching football through FAV and their links, and started to deliver the ‘Can U Kick It?’ programme. Since my time at FAV I have grown as a person and as a coach and it has helped me feel that I have changed. It’s given me the belief that I can progress as a coach and make my life better.”
James Gregory continued to speak about the work that his group had done and the people it had inspired: “Colin has changed and he is changing the lives of many of our young people. We are working to make this a community club and will soon be offering accredited health and wellbeing training through it.
“I grew up in this area and I never believed that I would have a career or a nice car or holidays. It hasn’t been easy. I could never have dreamt that something so awful as my son’s death would have led to me doing so much in my community. My work now is to give these young people, and their fathers, belief in themselves, the skills to make their future and, above all else, the ability to turn away from gang life and violence and to choose where they want to go.
“I believe in our young people and I want them to believe in themselves and to come back to their communities. Every father that is reunited with his family and who steps out to take up responsibility for his actions in the community can only help Manchester to be a better place for us all.”