Being threatened while playing with her children in a park was what inspired a youth worker to educate others on the dangers of carrying a knife.
Amara, who is now a project lead for detached youth work with Al-Hurraya, was in a park in Aspley one summers’ evening earlier this year, when she was confronted by a young person holding a knife.
After managing to defuse the situation and get home safely, she spotted an opportunity to use her experience to change the lives of others.
Amara and her team now spend three nights a week out on the streets of Nottingham, with four-hour shifts designated to ensuring young people are safe and feel safe in the area they live in.
The new detached youth work outreach programme – funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner via the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Partnership - recognises that some young people don’t access traditional youth clubs – so instead it sends trained professionals to go out to meet young people in their own neighbourhoods.
The aim is to talk to young people, signpost them to local youth services and, where appropriate, refer them into social care, or to drug and alcohol services – taking a public health approach to safeguarding them and reducing the risk of them engaging in violent crime.
Amara, who was speaking as part of Operation Sceptre, a week-long national campaign against knife crime, said: “I was in Melbourne Park which is in the Aspley area with my children. We were playing with sticks and I felt a couple of youths throw something at me.
“They wanted to take the sticks off us and while defending my children one of the boys, who was probably no older than 12, pulled a knife out on me.
“I was taken aback and shocked by the incident, but I felt I couldn’t hide away from what had happened.
“There’s some amazing kids in this area, they just need a chance and somebody to show that we care and we’re looking out for them. It’s so important to tell young people that they shouldn’t carry knives because doing so jeopardises their whole future.”
The innovative concept is being led by the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Partnership and was launched in April in three areas of Nottingham where local partners at Nottinghamshire Police and Nottingham City Council believe it may have an impact.
Al-Hurraya, a Lenton-based charity which is part-funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire, was working in Sneinton before spending 12 weeks in the Aspley area, where they have now been deployed for a further three months following positive feedback from residents.
Fellow youth workers from Evolve have been operating in Bulwell, where they have remained for a second 12-week stint.
Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges began working in the Bilborough area, before moving to Radford and Hyson Green at the end of July.
The Violence Reduction Partnership brings together specialists from local government, health, education, policing and criminal justice to work with communities and the third sector to reduce serious violence and tackle its underlying causes.
It takes a public health approach to reducing violent crime, focusing on what will make a difference to whole populations, communities and groups.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “The detached youth outreach programme is really innovative and recognises that there is no one-size-fits all answer to youth work.
“Hearing Amara’s story and what inspired her to help others shows that the project is in capable hands and clearly making a difference to the lives of young people in Aspley.
“Different people engage in different ways and this project shows we are trying to meet the diverse needs of young people across our communities.
“We need people to understand that carrying a knife does not protect you. It actually puts you and others at risk and the consequences can be devastating.”