With knife crime on the rise in Preston, The Princes Trust and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service have joined forces to raise awareness and take preventative measures amongst the city’s youngsters.
Taking part in what they describe as their first project of this type, they have been working with Safety Guide Foundation, The YOOOF Zone, Larches and Savick Boxing club, Preston’s College and Preston North End’s Soccer School to engage with as many young people as possible.
Here, project leaders and team members share their stories of how and why they have turned their lives around.
Read more: How a Preston dad went from a life of gang crime to being a boxing coach and working with Safety Guide Foundation to help reduce knife crime in the city and How Byron Highton is working with Safety Guide Foundation to stamp out knife crime in memory of his brother Jon-Jo
Organisers of The Princes Trust hope that by spreading their message to vulnerable areas in Preston, they can help reduce knife crime.
A total of 12 youngsters have been researching the areas in Preston that need targeting and have designed visual information, with facts and figures to hand out.
Sally-Ann Myerscough, Preston Deepdale Programme Team Leader at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, says: “This is the first time we have done a project of this type and of such a current issue.
“We are speaking with people who have person experiences of knife crime and this provides a lot of motivation for young people.
“The Princes Trust members are finding it interesting and the youngsters they are talking to are engaging in the programme.
“We have collected contact details to follow up to see if we have made a difference.
“The project culminated in a celebration event, which included a buffet, supplied by I’m Hungry sandwich shop in Deepdale they kindly made our buffet, as well as donations from Larches Co-Op.”
Brandon Batty, of Preston, joined the Princes Trust shortly after being released from prison last November.
Knowing how harmful a life of violence can be, he is determined to help deter youngsters from following a similar path.
The 20-year-old says: “I was in prison for eight months for violent crime and after I got released in November, my probation officer set me up with the Princes Trust.
“I have not been involved in knife crime myself, but I know it is an underlying problem that needs addressing.
“Society is changing and people are carrying knives because others are carrying them.
“It is a culture of survival of the fittest, kill or be killed, so people think they need them. But carrying a knife, you could put yourself at risk, because what would happen if someone took it off you?
“Unless we break through this and address the situation, we will end up going in circles.
“But people have to want to change. I realised I didn’t want a life of violence and I didn’t want to go to prison again. That is why I am sorting myself out.
“I want to help others in my situation and say there are other ways and means to accomplish things.”