A new perspective on knife crime

Working with the police revealed a whole different side to the problem   -  By Emma Bird

By Farahaz Ferus

I’ll be honest, in the beginning I basically wanted to do Envision for my CV. I thought I’m just going to do this and get it over with. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. I learned about myself, I learned about my community and I learned so many new skills.

Our project was on knife crime. We chose it because it was something that we were all worried about but there was also a lot of frustration at school about how newspaper stories got people thinking that all young people are dangerous.

It was really bad at the start like I didn’t think we would get anywhere. I think once we got the response from the Kinsella Trust everyone kinda thought to themselves, ‘Oh, this is actually happening’ and everyone kind of upped their game which was really good.

As a result of their project the team were invited to act as consultants on a Safer Neighbourhoods film project aimed at raising awareness of crime amongst young peopleBefore I did Envision, I never had to deal with the police. At first I was one of those people who blamed the police and be like, ‘What are they doing? They’re just picking on the youngsters’. In a way we kinda stereotyped them as well.  But having them come in and speak to us about what they do, it did made me realise that they are just doing their job. I think that’s probably when I started changing my mind. I think a lot of people did.

That’s when we got in touch with the Kinsella Trust because we wanted to speak to someone who had been a victim of knife crime. I thought it was a long shot inviting them but then I got an email back saying yes. I didn’t think honestly we could get them in at all. I thought they would just be liked ‘Oh, they’re just a bunch of kids’ and wouldn’t take us seriously. But I’m really glad they did come in.

Getting a response from Kinsella got us moving. We didn’t just want them to come in and do an assembly, so we began planning a workshop for Year 11’s that we could deliver first.

The workshops were quite nerve-wracking. I think they were a bit surprised when they saw us coming in to do the assembly. They didn’t take it seriously so at first it took a bit of time to settle down. It just made us think it’s such a hard job being a teacher and control all these students.

After the workshops, we took them to meet Ben Kinsella’s dad. I remember his dad saying that ‘We thought, when you heard this stuff on the news, you don’t think it would happen to someone you know’. At the end of the assembly we handed him over a cheque from a bake sale we did for his trust. We raised around £1000. Giving them the money, we felt really positive because it felt good to do something for them.

After the workshops I felt really -I don’t even know the word to describe it- not relieved, but I felt really happy, as if... it’s going to sound so cheesy.., but almost like a hole had been filled, if that even makes sense. Just knowing that I like did something positive. I never thought I’d actually be able to organise all of that. It felt really rewarding.

Since then, I volunteer to help out with events and stuff. I help out at a youth club that do small events every now and then. I would never have done that before Envision. It was actually after Envision I actually thought I want to go into events management because I thought I’d be really good at it.

I think Envision really helped me with my confidence so that I could do it. And then because I was put in charge of emailing the trust and getting them to come in, and then going to meet them and bringing them in and introducing them and stuff, it really helped with my confidence as well. Because I thought ‘Well Farah you can’t be shy because if you don’t do it, then you’ll never know what will happen next.’. Now when I go to open days at colleges and universities, I find it a lot easier to talk to people. I think that like, 'Wow, if I could have done that, then I can talk to anyone'.