BLOG: “It’s important that we reflect and review what we’re doing”

Jill Summers, our Joint Head of Safer and Stronger Communities, writes about the projects in the city that are tackling youth violence.

The fatal stabbing of Ava White in Liverpool last November shocked the whole city. I have a 12- year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son – the same ages as the victim and perpetrator of the attack – so it felt really close to home. Part of my job, as Joint Head of Safer and Stronger Communities, is to work with our community safety partners to develop strategies and co-ordinate action to tackle serious youth violence.

At times like this it’s important that we reflect and review what we’re doing.

Mayor Joanne Anderson held an open meeting in December with many different stakeholders- residents, healthcare professionals, teachers, youth workers and many others – and the passion and commitment to working together to tackle knife crime was really heartening. One of the things that came out of the meeting was the need to get better at telling people what is already being done, and connecting up the great work and campaigns that people are involved in such as #NoMoreKnives and #RealMenDon’tCarryKnives and #KnifeSavers. In order to do this we’ve set up new web pages which aim to bring together all of the information in one place.

Liverpool City Council is part of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) set up in 2019. The VRP takes a long-term approach to serious violence and focuses on education, interventions, employment and supporting the whole family. We work with the VRP to develop a joined-up approach, target resources effectively and evaluate the work.

Here are just some examples of the work we are doing to tackle knife crime:

Support for young victims of of serious violence attending hospital.

Provision of youth workers, or ‘navigators’, embedded in A&E departments at Aintree, the Royal and Alder Hey alongside clinicians to identify those involved in – or at risk of serious violence – and to support and refer young people into appropriate support services.

Mentors in Violence and Prevention programme

This initiative is being delivered in ten secondary schools across Liverpool. It’s a peer leadership programme, aiming to change behaviours and attitudes to violence over time. It covers gender-based violence and other topics identified by the year 7 and 8 ‘mentees’ that are most relevant to their needs/concerns in each school, including a session on weapon carrying.

Grants for sport, art and culture groups based within designated violence ‘hotspot’ localities

Seven groups in Liverpool have been awarded funding this year for intervention activities through this programme.

Knife crime play

Perception Theatre is currently touring a play called ‘CUT’ around secondary schools and community centres. CUT is an applied theatre production centred around knife crime and youth violence. It explores how a trivial dispute at school leads to a teenager being stabbed and killed. CUT explores the choice to carry a knife, peer pressure, drugs and alcohol misuse, risk taking behaviour and how knife crime can shatter relationships.  It’s hard hitting and over 2,500 young people have seen this play in the city during the past fortnight.

Bleeding control kits and KnifeSavers

KnifeSavers is a not-for-profit programme that teaches people what to do when dealing with bleeding caused by knife injuries through bleed control kits, an education programme, and a step-by-step app. We are supporting KnifeSavers to implement bleeding control cabinets (similar to defibrillator cases) to be mounted in key locations across the city centre.

Apart from the work we do to prevent knife crime, we also look to support friends and families who have lost loved ones. In September last year we supported Mandy Jamieson, whose 16-year-old son Danny was stabbed to death in 2018, to hold a memorial event for victims of knife crime at Liverpool cathedral. We are currently supporting Mandy’s petition to make this an annual event.

It is a citywide, collective effort to tackle youth violence and we must strive to prevent any more needless deaths.

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