Hundreds of young people have attended an event at Nottingham College focusing on knife crime.
Mothers, sisters and friends of those whose lives had been lost after being stabbed shared their personal stories at the college’s Basford campus.
The 200-strong audience heard from a number of inspirational people during the event, which was organised by Nottinghamshire Police’s Youth Outreach team.
In a series of emotional speeches, the speakers gave the students an insight into the devastation that decision to pick up a knife could cause.
The event was funded by Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) and took place as part of Operation Sceptre, a national week of action focusing on knife crime, which began on Monday (13 November) and runs until Sunday (19 November).
Erica Doran, Head of the VRP, said: “The Violence Reduction Partnership was proud to fund a partnership event promoting knife crime awareness at Nottingham College. It was a huge success with over 200 young people attending and was the opportunity to engage young people on the devastating impact knife crime can have on families and communities.
“There were a number of impactful stories from mothers who have lost children as a result of stabbings. It brought to light the emotional and individual impact the loss of a life has and highlighted the negative consequences and dangers for young people carrying knives.
“Events such as this are essential to engaging and working with young people to prevent serious violence such as knife crime happening in our communities, so we can work together to create a safer environment and city for all.”
Among those to address those in attendance was Zoe Cooke, whose son Byron Griffin passed away after being stabbed in July 2021.
And another speaker was Lisa Goss – the mother of former Nottingham College student Joseph Whitchurch who died in Stapleford in 2020.
A series of musical and spoken word performances also took place at Tuesday’s (14 November) event, while attendees were able to visit a number of information stands as well.
Youth outreach worker Romel Davis, of Nottinghamshire Police, said:
“I’ve done talks in primary schools about knife crime and we are now in a world where young people are exposed to knife crime and serious youth violence at a very young age, whether that’s from social media or from real-life experiences.
“It’s really important that we speak to young people about knife crime as early as possible and work with primary schools, secondary schools and of course colleges as well to educate people on knife crime, including the consequences and the risks.
“We do lots of work around knife crime as a team and the wider police force but one of the purposes of this event was to let young people actually see the impact it can have.
“Often they’re hearing it from a police officer or they’re hearing it from a teacher. But to have people like Zoe and Lisa here today, and to see these are real people that have brothers, sisters, mothers, children that have been affected by knife crime, is really important in helping young people see the reality of what that decision to pick up a knife could lead to.”
Education around the impact and consequences of knife crime was the main the main theme of the evening, which was arranged as part of an ongoing partnership between the police and the college.
The force’s Youth Outreach team currently visits the college’s campuses each week to meet with students as part of a 12-week youth outreach programme designed to help anyone that needs it.
“We’re offering this programme for young people that might be at risk of exclusion from college, or are having other issues at home or in the community,” added Romel.
“That could be anything from them needing a bit of support for their confidence, positive role models, or just providing them with a platform or other opportunities.
“There is a bit of education in there but we try and make it fun as well and show them a different side to the police that’s positive while also showing them that they are good enough.
“It has been amazing to see the reaction we’ve had from young people – not just about the 12-week programme but this event as well – so we’re thankful to the college for working with us and for allowing us to hold this important engagement event.”
Rachel Wadsworth, Nottingham College Vice-Principal for Curriculum and Support, said:
“As a college, we are dedicated to driving meaningful change for our students and the broader community of young people in Nottingham, so it was encouraging to see so many of our students attending and taking part in an event about such an important issue with the hope of driving forward real change in their communities.
“I’d like to say a special thank you to Romel, the police, and our staff, whose combined efforts to put together the event today are a testament to their commitment to effectively communicate vital information and key messages to young people in the city.”
Posted on Thursday 16th November 2023