If you have looked at the website and you have been following my blogs then you will know that the anti violence campaign is something that I feel incredibly strongly about.
On the 14th May I took part and helped marshal the march in Wellingborough led by the charity Off the Streets which culminated in the arrival at the knife angel monument which stopped for a few hours on it’s journey from Northampton to Corby in order for it to be part of this important day. The aim of the day, and any hosting of the monument is to provoke discussion around what we can do as individuals and together, in unison, to stop street violence. You can read about the day on the knife angel page of this website.
As I was busy talking to people around the topic and what we can do to help offer alternatives for our young people than to join those gangs that is often how they find themselves where violence is the only answer, I entirely forgot to sign the anti violence pledge. So, the following weekend, joined by my friend and our children we visited the monument at it’s stop in Corby. When we returned home it was to be told that moments after we left my friend’s house the air ambulance had made a landing in the local park as there had been a young person stabbed just that afternoon.
Today whilst visiting my parents, I became aware that the Manchester Bee monument which is made entirely of firearms and blades collected in an amnesty in the Manchester area, was being hosted locally by Derbyshire Constabulary. The weapons used to create the bee are part of what has been collected in the Forever Amnesty campaign.
I had the privilege of visiting the bee today in Derbyshire at Cromford Mills, the first host constabulary outside of Manchester for this important symbol of what we are all trying to aim for, to bring about social change. The bee has 2 other venues in Derbyshire – tomorrow 19th December at Buxton town centre and on Wednesday 21st December at Hall Leys Park, Matlock Town Centre. If you are able to, please pop along and visit, collect your own little handcrafted bee – at no cost, but to help promote conversation at home or work. The monument is less visually imposing than the knife angel but no less thought provoking or emotive. I think the inclusion of guns has a massive impact visually and for me, gave me new things to think about in addition to those previous thoughts and conversations I had had, earlier in the year.
I must also say thank you to the 2 officers who had been on the process of packing up at the end of the day for making time to allow an out of area Witness Care Officer to not just have a quick look, but to discuss what these crimes mean to us on a daily basis both in and out of work, and what our thoughts are around who and how might be able to help drive change.
Following my time with the knife angel I had communicated with Clive Knowles who is the Chairman and National Youth Violence Educational Programme and Tour Lead, to look at how the anti violence pledge could be made available online to those who wanted to sign up but were not near a local hosting event, and as you are aware I proudly announced, and have shared the link several times since, now that this access has been completed and I ask you again to consider what role you could take in helping stop or prevent violence on our streets.
I am not asking you to jump in if you see something happening. I am asking you to consider what, if any, small part can you play in offering an alternative for a young person who may not yet have joined that gang that would take them down the path where violence becomes the only answer.
Yes, I have worked in this area for almost 30 years but that’s dealing with what has happened!
I see my role in anti violence and prevention much more in the many hours I give in grassroots sports, where we can show there is an alternative place to belong. A different group to join. One that will not take you down a path where violence is the choice you face.
I was asked recently by a coach “ why is this my issue, why should I be involved?”.
Aren’t we all trying to work towards young people choosing sport?
Don’t you see how that fits the aims of the of anti violence and social change campaign? It’s a huge part!
So many of us are working to improve access at grassroots levels and to get our sport into schools, this is such a logical part of what we are doing and that is your pledge, right there.
So signing the pledge is just becoming part of that wider group who together, each with our own small step, can create a movement that might make our streets safer for the people caught up in these issues. Remember some of those who fall victim are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s not all those “wrong uns” as was recently described to me!!