Tracey Ford is making sure bereaved mums aren’t forgotten on Mother’s Day by raising money to buy them flowers. Her own son never returned home after being shot during a night out in south London. Here, in her own words, Tracey explains how she wants to "help keep their smile alive".
My name is Tracey Ford. I started JAGS Foundation following the tragic murder of my 17-year-old son in 2007.
He left home to go skating in Streatham Ice Skating Rink and he never returned. He was tragically shot and died on the 3rd February 2007.
We’ve lost over 280 young people since then. In the year of 2007 Andre was one of 27 young people that was murdered under the age of 21.
We started the Mother’s Day campaign a couple of years ago when I was speaking to one of my mums one day and it was coming up to Mother’s Day and she said Mother’s Day is not a day that she likes - because her day for Mother’s Day is spent in the cemetery.
I just felt even more saddened by the thought that I still have another child that still helps me to remind me of how special Mother’s Day is. And there are mothers who have lost their only child and don’t get that recognition, don’t get that bouquet in the morning, don’t get that remembrance to help them keep their smile alive.
I think one of the things about youth violence is that we’ve seen it growing year in year out. In 2007 we lost 27 young people - Andre was one of 27 young people that died. And in 12 years we’ve had nearly double. Last year we lost 41 young people to youth violence and I think it’s increasing because we’re still not getting it - we’re still not understanding that children need love.
It’s too easy for us to keep saying ‘oh, parents are not raising their children, it’s absent fathers, it’s role models’. Yes it’s all of that too but we can’t just be dealing with the situation by the blame tactic.
We’ve got community academics who know what’s going on, who can be used in this arena to help to change young people’s thinking and minds and address some of the situations that are happening locally for young people.
We need to get right back to the root of what’s happening. We talk about troubled families - we give all the names to the services that need to be looking after and caring for the children but yet we’re still seeing an increase in child murder - in youth violence. It’s increasing, it isn’t getting any better.
We have to take responsibility as adults to care for the children. They’re children. They’re children killing children.