Three good things: inspiring responses to knife crime

From an outdoor gym made from melted down weapons, to conflict management for young people: our pick of UK projects that are tackling knife crime in innovative ways

1. The London outdoor gym made from melted-down knives

Image: Steel Warriors

Recycling two tonnes of surrendered and confiscated knives, this outdoor gym in Langdon Park, Tower Hamlets, opened in October. It was created by charity Steel Warriors to raise awareness of knife crime and create a safe space for young people to exercise.

Steel Warriors co-founders Ben Wintour and Pia Fontes chose Tower Hamlets as the spot for their first gym as the borough has some of the highest levels of youth-related knife crime in London. One of the reasons young people carry knives, said Fontes, is to show off to their peers. The gym offers a more constructive way to build physical confidence – through exercise.

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“It’s shocking that the knife has become a socially accepted object to carry on the street within certain peer groups,” she said. “We hope that Steel Warriors will deglamourise this tragic trend.”

2. The young people learning first aid to help victims of knife crime

Some knife-related deaths happen because people at the scene don’t know what to do: panicking and fleeing without calling for help. Simply teaching young people to call 999 and to effectively deliver emergency first aid can save lives, say those at StreetDoctors, a UK project started in 2008 by two medical students and founded as a charity in 2013.

It mobilises volunteer doctors and medical students to teach young, at-risk people how to stem blood loss and keep casualties alive until medical help arrives. It has grown from one team in Liverpool in 2008, to 18 in 14 cities. There are at least 11 cases of people going on to help in medical emergencies.

“We treat young people as potential life-savers, capable of making positive choices,” explained chief executive Jo Broadwood.

3. The charity training young people in conflict management

Image: Slater King

Leap Confronting Conflict supports young people aged 11-25 to change their lives by better understanding themselves and their relationship with conflict. Many of the youngsters they work with have grown up in care, display violent behaviour, or are caught up in the criminal justice system.

The charity’s flagship programme for young people, Improving Prospects, aims to give people aged 15-21 insight into the causes and consequences of conflict. They learn that conflict is inevitable but when managed well, it can be a powerful catalyst for change.

“For the first time, I looked at myself and considered where my anger came from,” said Amyn, one participant. Referrals come from local authorities, youth services, youth offending services and schools.

Featured image: Steel Warriors



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