Posted: 27 December 2019

Anti knife programme in schools and colleges

Tonight, Channel 4 and Hollyoaks are airing an episode which will offer the first glimpse of a major 'county lines' storyline which will run throughout 2020. Their writers and researchers have been consulting our project workers and policy team who have been offering advice to ensure exploitation is portrayed accurately and sensitively.  

We caught up with Sarah, a Youth at Risk practitioner on the My Voice programme in Newcastle. She works with young people in schools and colleges in the north east of England, many of whom may be at risk of exploitation. 

What is the My Voice programme?

Running across schools and colleges, the programme supports young people’s emotional resilience whilst also addressing issues like knife crime within the wider context of their lives.

The programme is designed to encourage young people to explore their views and opinions in a safe and supportive environment. Group work covers a range of issues ranging from exercise tips and budgeting advice to exploitation and risk taking behaviours.  

Young people are placed at the heart of the group work practice, the idea being they share and learn and help each other. 

Who are the young people in the programme?

The programme supports 11 to 19 year olds who may be at risk of social exclusion, youth offending, going missing from home, in the process of leaving care or may be considered ‘on the edge of care’.

They may experience socio-cultural, political, economic inequalities and many of the young people I work with suffer from multiple disadvantage.

The programme addresses these complex personal and social barriers, and through participation work aims to promote their resilience and mental and emotional well-being

What do young people say about knife crime?

Why people carry knives is a complex issue. It's often linked to a fear for safety - whether that be due to a perceived rise in violence in a community, risk of threats from bullying or exploiters, or personal involvement in gang disputes. Sometimes young people are asked to carry knives for other older people. 

Some young people attribute money and debt issues to a prevalence of knife crime. They also talk about how certain music and online content fuels a culture of 'who is the hardest'. 

The importance of good and bad friends is often highlighted in our group sessions. Young people who do not have good friends, those who get in with the wrong crowd and those who can become socially excluded may carry/use weapons like knives. Having someone to trust and talk to is seen as very important. 

What are your hopes for the programme?

I hope that young people engage well and there is an increase in awareness of how to manage confict, prevent exploitation and enhance safety.

'My Voice project has helped me gain confidence and...information about how to protect myself in the outside world' - Sam, 18 


By Practitioner

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