Leeds Gambian Community pupils learn about the consequences of knife crime
On Monday 11 February 2019, at The Gambian Community Centre in Holbeck South Leeds, over 35 young people and some adults were given a powerful insight into the dangers and subsequent consequences of knife crime by St Giles Trust. The event was organised by The Gambia Welfare Society Leeds in partnership with Daniel Hardt from the West Yorkshire Police Community Engagement Team.
The workshop was presented by representatives of St Giles Trust – Gill and Leon are past victims of knife crimes themselves. The duo shared their personal experiences with the children and also similar experiences of their relatives who suffered a similar fate. When Gill and Leon were narrating their personal experiences there was a complete silence in the room and even if a needle dropped nobody would hear it. These real life stories had a big impact on the young people and we hope it may, quite literally, save a life.
Gill and Leon talked about peer pressure, being a gang member and the associated consequences. The children were advised not to be part of any criminal activity or gang otherwise they could find themselves on the wrong side of the law and potential risk of going to prison if convicted of a crime.
The children were told about with the conditions inside the prison for example, bed, sanitation and food and prison life in general. The children listened very attentively and seemed to be taken aback with what they were hearing. Yanks informed the children that there is no Benachin, Super or Plasas (Gambian dishes) in prison so they must continue to be good children and stay away from trouble if they love their Gambian food.
The Gambia Welfare Society is working with our police colleagues and others to try to assist our young people to be able to make informed decisions about what they are getting involved in which can have devastating consequences. Although we don’t have a problem with knife crime in our community, we felt it was important to arm our young people with the real consequences about knife crime.
Gill and Leon advised and encouraged the young people to talk to their friends, parents, teachers or even the police about their concerns and they were reminded that it is never OK to carry a knife, and anyone can report their concerns anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.
The workshop was extremely useful and was well received by all the participants, confirmed by numerous positive comments and appreciations registered by children. On behalf of The Gambia Welfare Society Leeds, Yanks Sawo Centre Manager of the Gambian Community Centre had this to say:
“Firstly, I would like to thank my line manager at Royal Air Force Leeming for giving me an early finish from work to go and supervise this workshop. This shows the commitment the RAF has towards the welfare of communities.
“Secondly, on behalf of The Gambia Welfare Society Executives and the community we are profoundly grateful to St Giles Trust Team – Gill and Leon for delivering an outstanding presentation arming our young children with tools regarding knife crimes. We genuinely couldn’t hope for any better – Gill and Leon are huge credit to St Giles Trust.
“Finally we also would like to extend our appreciation to Daniel Hardt West Yorkshire Police Strategic Engagement Officer for connecting us with St Giles Trust.”
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