My friend is caught up in a gang, what should I do?

Your friend or family member just loves their new mates, but you’re worried it’s going to end badly. We spoke to St Giles Trust to ask their advice on what to do if you think your friend is getting in with the wrong crowd.

boy in cap sits on a wall

They might not listen but keep being there for them.

What can I do?

  • Let them know you’re concerned. They might not respond straight away, but you could get them thinking.
  • Show them our breaking free from crime article.
  • Be there if they want to talk. They might feel they can’t tell anyone what’s going on – especially if they’ve broken the law. Let them know you’re always there to chat.
  • Keep inviting them out. They might be worried that if they leave the gang, they’ll lose their mates and have nothing to do. Show them what else is out there.

But what if they don’t want my help? They don’t really care about what I think any more.

If they’re being a rubbish friend, it’s easy to give up on them. But it might not be all their fault.

  • They may feel under pressure to hang out with gang members.
  • They might feel embarrassed they haven’t been around as much.
  • We can’t deny it- they might be swept along in the gang and think their new mates are more exciting. This can really hurt. Tamsin Gregory from charity St Giles Trust says: “Lots of people don’t believe in themselves enough, and they look for approval from others.” Gangs are really good at exploiting new people and making them feel special. It can be hard to resist.

If they’re caught up in gang life, it might be a while before they realise they don’t want to lose their other mates. Swallow your pride and keep talking or texting so they know you’re around if they need you. They’ll thank you for it later.

They want me to join too – what shall I do?

It might feel like the only way you can stay friends. But gang life isn’t as good as it sounds. Ex gang members say they felt trapped and got hurt, caught or set up.

Stay strong, keep doing what you’re doing, and show them there’s another way. That can have more impact that you think. Jerome told us how he left a gang and inspired his brother to do the same.

Who can I talk to about this?

Tamsin says: “There are lots of places to get help out there, so you don’t need to cope with things on your own.”

  • Talk to someone you trust – maybe a parent, youth worker, teacher or family friend.
  • Call Gangsline or St Giles Trust – lots of their staff are ex gang members and they can help talk things through and work out what you can do.
  • If you think they are in danger right now, call 999.

Nothing I do makes any difference – it’s really getting me down

It’s important to remember there’s only so much you can do. They’re responsible for their own actions and decisions.

If it’s all getting too much to handle, make sure you take time to look after yourself and focus on your own goals and plans.

Next Steps

  • Gangsline offers support to young people involved in gang culture. Call their free helpline on 0800 032 9538.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.



By Clare Foster

Updated on 28-Feb-2017