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Young people take a stand against knife crime in Basingstoke

03 August 2020

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Commission and Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT) have come together to tackle youth knife crime through artwork promoting peace and hope. 

Within Hampshire, Basingstoke is an area facing a high level of knife crime, the Youth Commission has been working closely with the Violence Reduction Unit to both identify the drivers of violence, and interventions that could help prevent young people taking a path that leads to violence.

The Basingstoke Peace project aims to raise awareness of the consequences of knife crime and promote positive activities for young people. HCT developed a series of positive, creative sessions with aiming to give young people a safe space for discussion, as well as opportunities to learn new skills and value their voice and contribution within their final artwork. Artist Jono Retallick worked with young people designing a piece of art that incorporates their personal reflections on knife crime and represents peace. The individual artworks, and further group artworks, will create a sculpture that tour various locations to create a discussion piece for positive focus with young people.

Deborah Neubauer, head of community at HCT, commented: ‘Arts and creative learning can have such an impact in helping to prevent the violence which unfortunately can become a part of so many young people’s lives.

This project intervenes at an early stage, giving young people the opportunity to express themselves creatively, to learn in a safe and trusted environment and to showcase the work they have produced to their peers when it goes on tour.’

The project seeks to:

  • Use art to create a talking point
  • Provide young people taking part with Youth Commission education resources and materials to educate and inform them about the consequences of knife crime and serious violence.
  • Inform young people about activities/options available to them such as programmes by the YMCA and Princes Trust, youth organisations and college courses
  • Show the community that young people are against violence
  • Enable young people to participate in the Youth Commissions Big Conversation and give their views and solutions to tackling serious violence

Students at Ashwood Academy attended the first workshops developed ideas for the first layer of a multi-layer sculpture that can grow as more young people take part. Charlotte Coley, Teacher, Ashwood Academy part of the Catch 22 Academy. “This is a really interesting opportunity for our students to get involved in a really positive and creative project. They are focusing on their strengths whilst also being given the space to talk about important issues that concern them.

“We are really proud to start the project at Ashwood Academy and we hope the sculpture becomes a positive focus for other young people to think about their strengths and encourage positive conversations amongst young people. “

The serious violence team mentor for the Youth Commission, James Bowman, is driving the project he said: “The Youth Commission identified violence as one of the topics we wanted to tackle this year and being a resident in Basingstoke I was concerned about the number of knife related issues in the area. I wanted to start an awareness project with young people so made contact with local organisations, who were supportive of this initiative. I’m passionate about preventing further knife crime and am delighted that young people working with Ashwood Academy and Basingstoke Youth Offending team have started this sculpture and look forward to showing it to the community”