Wednesday 5 December 2018 11:02 am

Let’s give knife crime a knockout punch

Last year was the worst year of my life. Seven people I knew were murdered. There have been an estimated 127 murders in London this year, and police statistics show that knife crime is up 12 per cent.

Clearly, we have a knife crime epidemic in London. Everyone is responsible and has a part to play: the government, the media, youth services, parents, schools, the pupil referral units, and the prisons.

In fighting knife crime and keeping our young people safe, we have to be solution-based. That’s what they need right now, and it’s what London needs too.

So here’s how we at BoxUpCrime are doing our bit. We provide free boxing training to keep young people off the streets and away from gangs and crime. In the past five years, we’ve worked with over 4,000 young people and opened up four buildings in London.

To ensure that our boxing sessions are free for those who need them most, we work with local authorities which subsidise the cost. We also work in schools, running after-school boxing classes and provide mentoring for those who have been referred to us by youth offending teams.

We are able to deliver these programmes because the young people we have helped are recruited as staff at BoxUpCrime. You can’t tell someone to turn their life around and not offer them access to financial stability.

This means that the people who were kicked out of school then go back into it to deliver boxing sessions, and the young offenders that were referred to us go back to the young offending teams and start mentoring.

From the perspective of the local authorities, what we are doing is regenerative – we’re empowering young people to mentor and motivate change in other young people.

We generate revenue by running boxing classes for adults. Every time an adult pays to train, they give a young person a job running a boxing session. We’ve started making our own boxing gloves, and every glove we sell gives someone else the opportunity to box for free. So our whole business model is sustainable and built on hope for the future.

All of our revenue streams are primarily focused on keeping boxing sessions free for young people and to provide them with an alternative income to robbery and selling drugs.

We’ve just been given a new building in east London, and we’re in the process of setting up a fitness gym. We want to develop a BoxUp franchise model across London to give the people we help the opportunity to run and own their own gyms.

We’ve all heard about the many issues related to knife crime and gangs, such as the lack of accessible youth services, street culture and negative role models, youth sector organisations failing young people, and the systemic routes from schools to prisons.

At BoxUpCrime, we believe that there is a fundamental solution to this problem: that those who have lived the same life as these vulnerable youngsters are the ones who can make the greatest impact, if they are truly passionate about changing lives.

BoxUpCrime is just one of 100,000 UK social enterprises, and like so many in the sector we’re able to sustain longevity because we thrive on passion. Speaking at a recent Red Bull Amaphiko event in Hackney for young, local innovators, we encouraged the next generation of social leaders to harness their skills and use them for change through their own companies that have a passion for humanity.

I believe that the main reason everyone has been brought into this world is to contribute to mankind, to inspire and motivate the next generation. That’s where success and real fulfilment comes from.