The head of a charity that helps young people overcome adversity and regain control of their lives is urging people to ‘think twice’ before becoming involved in knife crime.
Asad Fazil, founder and director of Al-Hurraya, said a spur of the moment incident could have devastating and life-changing consequences for people who carry a weapon.
Asad spoke out today in support of Operation Sceptre, a week-long national campaign against knife crime.
“Think twice. The consequences can be severe, not only to themselves but to their family and the community – to everybody who is involved,” he said.
“This could be a quick impulse when they are getting involved in knife crime. It could be an incident that so quickly happened, but the damage is severe, and we lose lives. So yeah, think twice.”
Asad, who grew up in Radford and Lenton, set up Al-Hurrayah in 2014 to help others and give back to his community after overcoming his own difficulties, including addiction and childhood trauma.
And his background means he has a unique understanding of what people may be going through.
“I’ve had a lot of adversities which I’ve come through. So now it’s all about giving back, and giving back especially from my cultural experience and passing that knowledge on.”
Al-Hurraya means freedom in Arabic and charity meets a need for tailored support for people from black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee backgrounds, who may find it difficult to connect with other mainstream support services.
The Lenton-based charity, which is part-funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire, provides culturally-specific diversionary activities, counselling, and mentoring.
One of the people who was helped by Al-Hurraya was Rafik Ahad, 35, from Mansfield, who misused substances for 10 years – and at his lowest point was using cocaine daily and getting into street fights.
Their intervention was truly life-changing and transformational for Rafik who is now clean and works for the charity as a mentor for drug addicts in Nottingham.
He said: “What I can say is Al-Hurraya don’t give up on any of their service users.
“It (drug addiction) is a hard lifestyle to come out of. Each time you seem to fall back and fall back. But Al-Hurraya has always been there.
“Even if I fell back they’ve been there and welcomed me through until I finally got the message that I needed to hear.
“That message for me was the Islamic 12 Steps - for me to have that understanding – because it is hard for me to just go to any church and do any other fellowship.
“I needed that understanding and connection and Al-Hurraya provided that and that’s where I found my message.”
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire, her Violence Reduction Unit, Nottinghamshire Police and other partners are supporting Operation Sceptre this week by putting the spotlight on some of the work they do all year round to prevent and respond to knife crime and support victims.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “Knife crime affects all of our communities across Nottinghamshire and can have a devastating impact.
“It is hard to underestimate how big a difference some structured support can make to someone going through challenges with drug and alcohol addiction, who may be exposed to lifestyles of crime and violence.
“Charities such as Al-Hurraya, who meet the needs of our diverse communities, are really important because we need to give everyone equal access to support which can be potentially life-changing.”
For more information about Al-Hurraya, visit www.al-hurraya.org