YOUNG people across Coventry have spoken out about the consequences of carrying and using knives amid worrying knife crime increases.
A total of 300 young people have been involved in a series of sessions run by Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) to voice their opinions on knife crime.
The participants came from across the city, ranging from between age 11 to 19 – taking part in interactive workshops in schools, youth clubs and play areas across Coventry.
Last year, there was a 14 per cent rise in crime across the West Midlands of which offences committed using knives and firearms rose significantly.
West Midlands police recently announced a crackdown on gun and knife violence – which police say has strong connections to organised crime, gangs and drugs.
Sarah, 17, is one of the young people who has been involved in the sessions.
She said: “Too many young people are talking about knife crime, and that is why I am getting involved in this work as I feel I can help to support young people from my community to understand the issue better.
“There are so many different views that I hear. This programme helps me to share facts with people, which is really important right now as many young people are being misinformed by social media about what is and isn’t legal when it comes to weapons.
“I have learnt so much already, from first aid techniques if there is an incident to services that young people can access to stay away from crime.”
Plans are in place to continue delivering the session to more young people.
James, 17, added: We need to talk about knife crime and violence. It’s not straight forward, it’s not just about crime. If people don’t feel like they have a place to go and things to do, they can get dragged in to things.
“Coming to PYF is like another family. People from all over the city, different cultures, all together doing good things.
“We shared our feelings recently with adults from the council and the police. They listened to our views about crime. It’s a good thing that we get to talk.”
The PYF Leadership Academy prepared a group of young people to lead this work, giving their own views and sharing their own personal experiences of knife crime.
Rashid Bhayat, chief executive of the PYF, said: “Knife crime is a serious issue that we have been addressing for many years.
“Whilst Coventry does not have the same level of challenges as similar sized cities, even one incident is one too many.
“We are working very closely with young people, voluntary sector groups, the local authority and the police to ensure that young people in Coventry have a safe place to learn about the devastating consequences of carrying weapons, as well as the impact knife crime has on individuals and society at large.
“Coventry has a proud history of having very positive young people, evidenced again by the hundreds of young people who chose to join this programme to increase their understanding and make their communities a safer place.
“A critical part of this programme was to highlight the role of youth work in addressing some of society’s challenges.
“We must ensure that we seek to invest in services for young people. Over the past few years we have seen many cuts, we must now refocus and understand that without investment, young people will be left at risk.”
The programme was funded by The Home Office anti-knife crime Community Fund.
To find out more about this initiative visit www.positiveyouthfoundation.org or contact PYF on 02476 791190