YMCA Newcastle have launched a new project that aims to raise awareness of knife crime among the City’s young people. The project involves delivering a social media campaign to highlight the effects of knife crime for both victims and perpetrators, helping to reduce crime rates in the City Centre. In recent years, national knife crime rates have increased dramatically, and in Newcastle, the number of reported incidents of possession of a weapon has increase by 33%.

 Last year in Newcastle, 168 arrests were made for possession of weapons in the City Centre alone. Across the city, 6,340 violent crimes were reported last year, and 8,330 incidents of anti-social behaviour. 33% of all knife crime arrest in Newcastle were made in the City Centre: this demonstrates a real need for awareness of the consequences of carrying weapons. The increase in arrests made for possession of weapons among young people in the City Centre coincides with the reduction of activities and support services in place for disadvantaged young people. An increase in violent gang content on social media has also been attributed to escalating crime rates among young people.

 The knife crime social media project will be delivered thanks to the funding given to us by the #iwill fund. The Big Lottery Fund and Department of Culture, Media & Sport are each investing £20 million seed funding over four years to create the #iwill fund. The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland is acting as match funder and are awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill fund.

With the funds awarded, young people will work to design their own content for a wide-reaching social media campaign on Facebook and Instagram based on their own experiences of knife crime as young people in Newcastle. The campaign will feature a documentary produced by the young people that highlights the consequences of knife crime for perpetrators, victims and families across the region.

 The campaign will be led by a steering group of 6-8 people, as well as some help from a local film-maker and Digital Marketing Officer. The young people anticipate that the campaign will reach 300,000 young people ages 15-24 across the region.

 In addition to their campaign, the steering group of young people will also deliver 6 workshops to various youth groups, 2 of which will be delivered at our City Centre facility SPACE2. The workshops will help to increase awareness of the dangers of possessing weapons.

 The project will significantly improve the employment prospects of the group by equipping them with essential skills and experience in digital marketing, project management, filmography and public speaking.

Look out for our exciting campaign which will launch later this year.