Who are we?
Lives Not Knives started in 2007, when youth violence, gang culture and youth crime was prevalent among young people in the UK. It began as an awareness campaign, to prevent young people from carrying a knife and to raise awareness to parents and adults of the true statistics on the number of young people carrying knives. LNK started working with City Hall, contributed to Home Office round table events, against youth violence, to help shape the programmes that are now running in communities.
LNK are embedded within the local community. We have been delivering intervention’s in Croydon Schools for over 15 years. Working closely with School Head of Years, SEN’s, parents and carers to support the most vulnerable young people in Croydon from getting involved in serious youth violence, exploitation or grooming and supporting parents to navigate the education system, criminal justice and social care systems. By sharing resources with teachers and training them how to identify and seek help for young people identified as being at risk of becoming involved in serious youth crime.
In 2020/21, 33% of children in Croydon lived in households with an income of less than 60% the UK median after housing costs have been subtracted. This has been exacerbated by Covid and the current cost of living crisis.
Some of the problems we’re trying to solve are poverty, deprivation, poor mental and physical health, low school attainment, learning disabilities, trauma, self-harm, living as a carer and living in areas with high youth criminality. Some of these factors are a direct, causal effect of youth crime.
The young people we work with have either been affected or are at risk of being affected by youth crime. In 2016/2017, Croydon saw a 103% increase in knife crime. Many of the children we work with have parents who are involved in criminality, mental health issues or live in a neighbourhood in the Fairfield Ward and several wards in the North of the Borough of Croydon that are unsafe for them to socialise. Gang grooming is something that they are aware of and knife crime is a commonality in the area of which they live. These young people lack a reliable and responsible adult figure, they feel neglected and excluded from society and need a safe place, with a trusted, reliable and consistent support network.
In Croydon, the proportion of 19-year-olds without a level 2 or level 3 qualification in 2020/21 was 33.6%. This was higher than the average London Borough. There is a direct link between pupils eligible for free school meals and lower GCSE attainment. In 2021, 51% of pupils known to be eligible for FSM achieved a standard pass in both English and Maths, compared to 77% of pupils not eligible. 100% of our attendees are eligible for free school meals so will likely be impacted in this way.
Overall, these young people mostly need:
- - A healthy meal
- - Diversionary activities in a safe environment away from youth crime
- - Enrichment activities, offering new experiences
- - Support with applications for self-referrals to local specialised services - e.g. mental health
- - Support with issues around housing, schooling, higher education and local apprenticeships
By giving them a safe space, off the streets, to engage with our mentors and participate in enrichment activities, we hope to solve some of these problems and better the lives of this vulnerable group.
Why are we crowdfunding?
LNK’s strengths are passionate youth workers with lived experience who want the next generation to have a safer childhood, with greater life expectations. LNK have a strong, qualified team, trusted by young people, because the young people feel the commitment by the LNK youth workers. We are embedded within the community, working in schools, with other local charities and trusted, specialised children’s Services. LNK have run Engage successfully since 2018. LNK identify gaps in provisions for young people in Croydon, which has been made substantially greater because our local authority recently declared bankruptcy causing funding cuts and charity closures forced by Covid, therefore, creating greater dependancy on our services. Leading to a higher demand of parents sign ing up for LNK Engage. We have run these programmes during school holidays in the past - over 110 parents signed up online for our last LNK Engage programme of which we only had 20 places. Greater support is needed for us to assist more young people to keep this programme running successfully.
Our beneficiaries have the following characteristics –
- - 100% living in poverty, eligible for free-school meals
- - 80% have dyslexia, special educational needs or social, emotional and mental health problems
- - 70% engaged in or at-risk of criminal activity or exploitation by gang
How we’ll spend the money raised
Due to increasing utilitie bills, we need to raise sufficient funds to cover the increasing cost of utilities to heat and light the LNK unit from which LNK is based in the centre of the community. Whilst, the decline and lack of support from our Local Authority due to the declaration of bankruptcy has lead to lack of funds for the discretionary rate relief for the LNK unit, which is based in Centrale Shopping Centre, located in the centre of Croydon and easily accessible for young people and parents. Therefore, we will need sufficient funds to pay the discretionary rate relief for the rental space of the space.
The monies raised will be spent on the increase in utilities, a healthy meal for all young people who access LNK engage