Young people design gun and knife crime project at Stratford Circus

Hundreds of young people packed into Stratford Circus recently to share the results of a project designed to prevent gun and knife crime in Newham.

The evening included talented performances, moving films and emotional recollections of the impact of violent crime. It was attended by a host of special guests including BAFTA award winning film maker Mark One, founder of global movement Peace One Day Jeremy Gilley, and West Ham MP Lyn Brown.

The event called Street Life: The conversation, was the culmination of six months of work discussing and understanding the impact of gun and knife crime, with young people taking part in activities and events in Community Links’ hubs around the borough. They worked on films, performances, photographs, songs, and T-shirt designs highlighting the risks of getting involved in gangs and the positive alternatives for young people.

During the event Michael Smith, founder of Words for Weapons, explained that his organisation provides knife bins around London where people can anonymously leave knives to be safely disposed of. The organisation has just installed two new bins in Newham – one at the junction of West Ham Lane and Church Street, the other at the junction of High Street South and Rancliffe Road.

Performances were interspersed with recollections from three people who had lost young family members to violent crime. One man told how his son had been beaten to death by three young people ten years ago. He now spends his time working with young people in schools and young offender’s institutes explaining the devastating impact it can have on families and communities. He recently met one of his son’s killers, who ten years deeply regrets his actions.

Mark One, a Bafta-award winning film maker, lost a family member to gun and knife crime seven years ago, and has spent five years developing a powerful film called After Effects, which was screened at the event. It vividly shows the impact a young person’s death has on the family of the victim and the perpetrator. It will be shown in schools and youth groups around the country.

Sal Idriss is a professional photographer whose photographs appear in the National Portrait Gallery. His 17-year-old brother was killed in an unprovoked knife attack in Islington in 2007. Since then Sal has worked to educate and deter those vulnerable to gun and knife crime. He worked with young people from Community Links’ Arc in the Park centre in Canning Town to make five special photographs illustrating the dangers of becoming involved with guns, gangs, and knives.

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Community Links thanked everyone who helped out with the programme through giving workshops and sharing their experiences with the young people. These included Bob Goldsmith, Mark One, Sal Idriss, Whitney Iles, Michael Smith and Ray and Vi Donovan.