Young people at risk of becoming involved in violence are being told “don’t be frightened to open up” about their struggles.
The head of a charity that uses football to help young people realise their potential and divert them from crime and antisocial behaviour said speaking to people and seeking support can be the first step towards a brighter future.
Graham Moran, chief executive officer at Nottingham Forest Community Trust, made the plea today as part of a national week of action against knife crime, called Operation Sceptre.
“A plea from us here at Nottingham Forest is speak to people and don’t be frightened to open up and whatever you do, stay away from violence,” he said.
“If you are at risk or even considering getting involved in youth violence then just think again and speak to somebody in your local community.
“We work with organisations like Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges – you’ll know who they are. So speak to them as there is a better way out of this and a much more positive future for people. Hopefully the partnership we have here in Nottingham will help that and keep you out of horrendous violence.”
Nottingham Forest Community Trust, based at the City Ground, delivers a wide range of physical and educational programmes across Nottingham city and the wider county.
It aims to divert people away from antisocial behaviour and violence by increasing participation in sport and physical activity and investing in accessible high-quality sports facilities for people living in areas of disadvantage. It also aims to enthuse young people to design and implement social action programmes in their own communities and champion positive community cohesion and improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of communities.
But Graham added that the whole community can be part of the team championing positivity for young people.
“It is all of our responsibility, including family and our friends to keep people away from violence and crime in particular and there are other routes out of it that are really positive that will give you a better future,” he said.
“The job of Nottingham Forest Community Trust is to support our community wherever we can and particularly those who need our help more than ever and also to work with all sorts of organisations in local communities to do the best for Nottingham people.
“Our work with the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Violence Reduction Unit and other strategic organisations is vital and we will do whatever we can.
“Our role as a professional football club is to use everything we have got in our power to attract young people and engage them in positive activity and if we can use football to do that then that’s what we are trying to do, and we hope it works.”
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: “Young people don’t need to suffer in silence. Everyone has struggles at different times in their lives but opening up and reaching out to people you know and trust can make such a difference to your life.
“There are so many organisations across Nottinghamshire who can listen, and work with you to find the kind of support you need to move away from an environment of violence or crime – so please don’t bottle it up.”
She added: "Nottingham has a thriving community and voluntary sector that is ready and willing to support children and young people who are vulnerable to being involved in knife crime.
“There is so much positive work taking place by organisations, such as Nottingham Forest Community Trust, Breaking Barriers Building Bridges and countless others. No one should feel that they don't have a way out.
“Operation Sceptre gives us a great opportunity to make people aware of the support that is out there and encourage people to reach out.”
Superintendent Kathryn Craner, Nottinghamshire Police’s knife crime lead, said partnership working across the community was vital to helping reduce knife crime and keeping our communities safe.
“Eradicating knife crime from our communities is a key priority for us as we understand the devastation this offending can cause,” she said.
“Working alongside our partners, we have taken some positive strides in helping reduce knife crime in our communities but it’s absolutely crucial that we continue our efforts to drive this down further.”