Having witnessed the horrors of knife crime first-hand, these five young people know exactly the devastating affect it can have on families and the community at large.
And they are in no doubt Tory cuts to youth services, soaring inequality, drugs and a lack of neighbourhood police are to blame, leaving many bored teenagers vulnerable to the clutches of gangs.
After feeling ignored by politicians, the group has now demanded Boris Johnson tackle the knife crime epidemic sweeping Britain before more lives are lost.
They delivered a letter and 12-point manifesto to the PM today, which includes calls for more cash for youth services and tackling the causes of crime such as a lack of housing and jobs.
It came as figures showed knife crime hit a record high in 2018/19, up 8 per cent on the previous year.
But research found real-terms spending on youth services by 40 per cent over the past three years.
One of the group, Eden Lunghy, has friends who lost people to stabbings.
The 20-year-old, from Camden, North London, said: “I definitely think budget cuts to youth club services and after school provision has had a big impact.
“Before, people felt they could go somewhere and do activities and distract themselves from what’s going on.
“But when your youth club is being shut all you can do is hang around your estate with friends.
"That can lead to young people feeling bored and disconnected from society and become a group that causes trouble that escalates to rivalry with other groups and leads to fatal stabbings.”
Eden also warned Mr Johnson’s pledge to reverse cuts to police forces would not on its own tackle the problem.
The group's 12-point manifesto
1 Ensuring young people feel safe on the streets is important if they are to stop carrying knives.
2 Work needs to be done to challenge the idea that carrying a knife is the norm.
3 Schools need to provide better support to young people who are at risk of involvement in crime, those excluded from school need a safe place to go.
4 Investment in youth services and mentors is key to helping young people escape violent lifestyles.
5 We need to tackle the underlying causes of violent crime in communities such as lack of housing and unemployment.
6 Gangs need to be prevented from using social media as a means of recruiting vulnerable young people.
7 All media have a responsibility not to perpetuate myths that young people need to carry a knife or contribute towards young people becoming desensitised to violence.
8 Introduce more community police officers who can build relationship and help prevent crime before it starts.
9 Tackling the drugs market is a key part of tackling knife crime.
10 The Government need to provide support to young people who are either already involved or a risk of becoming involved in county lines activity. There needs to be a clear strategy on how to help these victims of exploitation escape involvement with gangs.
11 Custody should be used as a last resort – often it only serves to help young people become ‘better criminals’.
12 Rehabilitation, particularly helping young people gain skills and access employment should be central to the youth justice system.
She said: “Just adding more police isn’t going to solve the issue.
“The Prime Minister and other organisations need to find the root causes in order to dismantle it and ensure young people aren’t getting stabbed and killed on the street.
“It’s heartbreaking to see how one fatal stabbing can cause a broken community.
Group member, Zak Hall, told how youngsters were knifing people just to get “likes” on social media
The 24-year-old, of Redbridge, East London, revealed his brother was stabbed in January.
He said: “He’s okay. He survived. I live in a good part of London, yet my brother was sliced with a knife.
"My older brother was in an attempted car-jacking by two guys with rusty knives.
"Somebody I know was murdered on his birthday last August. Social media is partly to blame. Social media, drill music and teenage angst all mixed together causes violence.
"When you can track popularity by likes, it is going to cause people to do things for likes. People can attack others for likes.”
Hamza Taouzzale, 20, was elected as a Westminster Labour councillor at 18 in a bid to combat knife crime.
And he wants more youngsters to be involved in the battle.
Hamza said: “We’re trying to engage more young people and get them to the table. Especially when a lot of policies are made for young people, without the input from young people.”
The five who delivered the manifesto to No10 have worked with the cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime, chaired by Labour MP, Sarah Jones.
Some demands in the manifesto are the same as the Mirror’s anti-knife campaign, which includes demands more cash for youth services.
The Home Office said: “This government will not stand by while more young lives are lost. We are determined to crack down on the scourge of knife crime.”
Read Voice of the Mirror here
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