Community Diversion – Humankind

Humankind’s Community Diversion Service host Connor Brown’s Trust for Knife Crime Awareness Week

Jasmine Rocks

Stacey Taylor from Humankind’s Community Diversion service writes about their recent experience meeting with Tanya and Simon Brown, who lost their son Connor due to knife crime.

As part of Knife Crime Awareness Week, we were privileged to be able to host Connor Brown’s parents, Tanya and Simon. They gave a talk about knife crime and the impact it has had on them personally after they lost their son. They shared the devastating story of how their son was taken away from them in 2019, due to being stabbed multiple times on a night out after trying to diffuse a fight.

Tanya and Simon spoke further about the work they do alongside Samantha’s Legacy, another trust set up in memory of a young person who tragically lost her life to knife crime. While the charities are in two different locations – Connor Brown’s Trust in Sunderland and Samantha’s Legacy in Newcastle – they stand as united organisations.

Connor Brown’s Trust delivers workshops to young people, to show the personal impact that knife crime has on people. They put the word ‘impact’ into a completely different perspective for people by asking who the first person is we think of in the situation of a knife crime attack. The first answer is normally ‘the victim’ and the second answer is normally ‘the victim’s family and friends’.

During the workshops, however, they explain that there is also the perpetrator, the perpetrator’s family and friends, witnesses, witnesses’ families, the police, and emergency services. This completely broadens everyone’s perspective on how many people can be affected by a singular incident and the subsequent ripple effect.

Connor Brown’s Trust also details what they believe to be the main factors that influence young people to carry knives, such as peer pressure and social media influence. Tanya and Simon shared that one of the main questions they ask young people during the workshops is ‘What do you do if you find a knife?’ and follow up by explaining the right procedure to follow.

Tanya and Simon also educate young people about what can constitute as a weapon. This helps to open young people’s eyes to the wide range of items that are classed as an offensive weapon – not just knives. Things such as scissors, screwdrivers, and broken bottles.

Tanya and Simon also raise awareness of an anonymous reporting website, Fearless, where anyone can report a crime without being identified or contacted for further information. This website is a great resource for us to educate people who attend our Community Diversion service, allowing them to feel more comfortable reporting something they are worried about.

Tanya and Simon shared information about the community hub they are currently building in Pennywell as part of their trust. They also described a scheme they piloted with 17 young people where, through virtual reality, they were able to observe the actual crime scene where their son Connor was attacked, as well as visit the courts and cells and meet with a vascular surgeon. They provided guidance on how to treat wounds and raised awareness of where the nearest bleed kits are in their communities, while also allowing the young people to meet police officers, inspectors and sergeants. Tanya and Simon have also created a map where you can locate your nearest bleed kit in the area.

Our Community Diversion Service team found Simon and Tanya’s work truly inspirational, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room as they told their story. The work and messages they share will inform the team’s work. It is admirable how they have taken such a devasting and tragic event and used it to power them to change so many other people’s lives.

Knife Crime Awareness Week

Jasmine Rocks

Monday 20 May – Sunday 26 May 2024 marks Knife Crime Awareness Week.

The campaign is hosted by the Ben Kinsella Trust to shine a spotlight on the devastating ripple effects knife crime has on families and communities. It’s an annual week of advocacy to raise awareness, educate and take action to stop knife crime

This week, Humankind’s Community Diversion Service, which is funded by the Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, will be raising awareness of the impacts of knife crime, and the work they are doing across the North East.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Susan Dungworth, said: “I fully support the #StopKnifeCrime initiative spearheaded by The Ben Kinsella Trust. We all must take responsibility and work together to prevent further devastation for families and communities impacted by knife crime.

“Throughout this awareness week, the Violence Reduction Unit is delivering crucial education to hundreds of young people in schools and community settings. Alongside a range of partners, we are ensuring additional support is available through our Community Diversion Service. This vital intervention sees us identifying young people vulnerable to serious violence, working with them to address their needs and change their behaviour, as well as providing wider support to their families.

“I want to make sure we are reaching young people before they ever consider picking up a knife, which is why it is all the more important that initiatives such as this exist. The more we continue to raise awareness, provide our young people with the knowledge and tools they need to stay safe and carry out a range of targeted activities, the more we can collectively tackle knife crime head-on.”