The Chair's Blog - Campaign Update

October 24, 2018

Hi, hello, how you doing? 😀


This is exciting, isn’t it? My name's Zara and I’m the Chair of the Youth of Walsall (YOW).


Here we are, my first Chair’s blog post, which is ridiculously overdue by the way, but I got there in the end.


Just a quick intro about myself. I’m 20 years old, an apprentice at Walsall Council and I've been the Chair of YOW since April 2017. I'm a big reader (when I get the time), a hoarder of books and a ‘siriusly’ massive Harry Potter fan!


I joined YOW because I didn’t really get involved in many extra-curricular activities whilst I was at school. When I left school, I wanted to be part of a group that makes a positive difference for young people in Walsall and I’ve never looked back.


Anyway, enough about me, onwards with the campaign update! If you’ve been following our social media accounts, you’ll know that we’ve been working on a knife awareness campaign, ‘Real Knives, Real Lives for the last year. If you don’t know, where have you been?!


The aim of the #RealKnivesRealLives campaign is to educate young people about the dangers of carrying a knife. There are 3 parts to the campaign:

  • Knife awareness workshops.

  • A short film.

  • Art competition.


We were successful in applying for funding from the Active Citizens Fund from the Police and Crime Commissioner to fund the campaign.


We’ve recently held the first 4 workshops run by the brilliant Ray Douglas who is a Youth Practitioner, with young people being referred to the workshops from the wonderful Youth Justice team at Walsall Council. The workshops focused on a range of different topics. Young people were given an insight into:


  • Systemic youth violence within the community.

  • The physical, social and emotional impact of life-threatening behaviour relating to knives, gangs and serious youth violence.

  • Understanding the effects of music (specifically trap, drill and grime) and film and video games in relation to violence, Nihilism and self-identity.

  • Safeguarding around micro and macro violence, county lines, exploitation, racism, radicalisation and right-wing extremism.


Discussion and questioning were encouraged in the sessions by Ray Douglas. Understandably though, some of the young people didn’t feel comfortable in speaking in front of their peers.


However, by the responses and discussions that I heard and took part in, I can definitely say that the young people were ‘affected’ in some way by Ray’s presentations.


They grew in confidence as the workshops went on, from crossed arms and bowed heads in the first session to open arms and raised heads.


We are under no illusions that due to our workshops the issue of knife crime will be fixed overnight. However, this is the start of a journey where we hope to reduce the carrying of knives within young people as much as we can.


The next parts of the project are:


  • Further knife awareness workshops, incorporating art, which will be taking place in schools.

  • Filming a short film in partnership with Fixers next week.

  • Getting the art competition up and running very soon.


Watch this space to find out what we’ve been up to next month. For now, it’s goodbye, sayonara and adios from me! Join me again in my next blog post in November!


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