Mayor funding is giving young men a voice in the fight against knife crime

Katherine Johnston (09 January, 2019)

'I think they don’t have the opportunity to speak to adults about these things very often but they want to'

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A youth offending officer working in schools across Southwark to prevent at-risk kids getting trapped in a cycle of knife crime says the stereotype that boys don’t want to talk about their feelings is untrue.

Hannah is one of the officers whose six-week long intervention workshops in schools across the borough has been given a funding boost from Sadiq Khan’s Young Londoners Fund.

The project is focused on intervention, and is inspired by the public health model the News has championed, which treats violence like an infectious disease, working on the assumption that it spreads as more people come into contact with it.

Hannah says her work focuses on how young people feel and their day-to-day lives, saying that in their experience a lot of young people at risk of becoming involved in knife crime are reacting to trauma.

“We try to use small groups to do those sessions where they can really have a chance to tell their story and to explore the specific issues for them,” she said.

“If possible we try to do it in friendship groups so that those discussions can carry on outside the sessions.

“It can be quite powerful for teenage boys to hear their friends talk about their feelings and have an open and honest discussion about the challenges for young people.”

She believes young men in particular, who are often described as a group reluctant to open up, are keen to share their feelings.

“We don’t have a problem with engagement in these sessions, I think they don’t have the opportunity to speak to adults about these things very often but they want to.

“There seems to be a narrative in society that young boys don’t want to talk and they don’t talk about feelings but given a safe enough space I think they do,” she said.

The project will receive £150,000 throughout the next three years from the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund, which will also help it expand into Lambeth for the first time.


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