Young people admit to feeling like “aliens” in their own homes – and believe it might be a reason for the amount of youth violence in the borough.

With fear of knives, guns and violence across Waltham Forest the second highest in London, councillors, council officers and young people met last night to discuss how to tackle the issues.

Members of the Youth Independent Advisory Group (YIAG) attended last night’s communities scrutiny committee meeting at Waltham Forest town hall and gave frank accounts of their own experiences and those of their friends.

The YIAG is a group of 13 to 24-year-olds that meets monthly to discuss issues affecting young people and they deliver workshops, talks and assemblies in schools across the borough to educate and listen to young people about matters that affect them.

The group works with Waltham Forest Council, the police and other authorities to inform policies on gang culture, knife and gun crime and youth boredom. All members either have experience in the youth justice system or have been victims or witnesses of crime.

Jameel is a 24-year-old YIAG member who has lived in the borough his whole life.

He partially blames the changing demographic of Waltham Forest and the exclusion of young people associated with it for the borough’s rise in youth violence.

He said: “I feel like an alien in my own home. It’s frustrating that young people’s voices don’t get heard and somewhere you’ve lived the last 20 years is changing so much.

“I have a dog and a walk my dog through the park. When people come up to you and talk to you, I feel like I shouldn’t be there anymore. You don’t feel included in your own borough, it’s not a nice feeling.”

Cllr Karen Bellamy, of Higham Hill ward, praised the point and asked the committee to conduct a review into how changing demographics and “gentrification” impact youth violence in the borough.

Fellow YIAG member, Kara, warned that the council is at risk of being out of touch with the issues on the ground and suggested one solution to the problem would be to redirect young gang members’ skill sets.

She said: “A lot more can be done to use the skills of young people. What can we do to flip those skills? If someone’s a good leader, well organised, if you think how skilled an organiser do you have to be to run a business?”

Council officer Alastair Macorkindale agreed.

He said: “That’s the postcodes to profit argument; if the drivers [towards gang involvement] are economic, the solutions need to be economic. There needs to be a dedicated plugging in of these people to these opportunities.”

The council recently commissioned and published a large scale review into the borough’s gang culture and structure. It was titled ‘Postcodes to Profit’ and it outlined the move away from inter-gang territory rivalry and towards the fight for drug market monopolies.

Mr Macorkindale went on to describe a recent scheme where former gang members were given the opportunity to visit the stock exchange in the City and try their hand at it.

He said: “Some of them outperformed the traders that had been employed there, because they had better risk assessment skills, because they were doing that all the time.”

The committee set their aims for the year during the same meeting.

Members decided to focus on elements including domestic abuse/violence, changing demographics’ impact on youth violence, school exclusion’s impact on youth violence, improving perception of the borough’s police force and better understanding local drug markets.