A youth leader whose educational charity has helped steer young people away from violence for more than 20 years has launched a hard-hitting film on the risks of household knives being used as weaponry on the streets.
Courtney Rose, who founded the community charity and independent school Take 1 Studio in Nottingham and was recently appointed as a Community Ambassador for Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), unveiled the ‘Know Your Knives’ film today as part of Operation Sceptre – a national week of action against knife crime.
The film, set to be publicised across social media channels in support of the VRU’s work, depicts a distraught mother who discovers one of her kitchen knives in her daughter’s schoolbag.
It was co-produced by pupils attending the school, alongside their film teacher Gavin Gordon and the VRU, and warns parents to pay attention to their children’s behaviour, concerns and associations as well as their household knives.
Courtney, who launched Take 1 Studio in 1999 to provide an alternative learning environment centred on music, technology and dance for the hardest to reach young people in Nottingham’s inner city, said the film is the latest in a series of videos developed by the students to make a positive impact on young people’s safety.
“It was something we thought we needed to do because of what is happening in the world today,” he explained.
“People often see knife crime from the male perspective, so we looked at it from a female perspective and from the point of view of a single parent to open people’s eyes.
“We’re really proud of the film. I’m an advocate for education and helping people to make the right choices. Nine out of 10 children involved in violence today have negative role models and buy into that life.
“We’ve made a few of these films now and for me it is just another way of educating.”
Operation Sceptre launched on Monday (9 November 2020) and provides a snapshot of the ongoing year-round work being undertaken to combat knife crime in Nottinghamshire which involves police, partners and local communities all working together.
Dave Wakelin, Director of the VRU, said: “This film will speak to all families, not only those with single parents. It demonstrates the complexity around knife-carrying that some families have to deal with and the shock that parents have when they find out their child is carrying a knife.
“In the film we have Chantelle who’s being bullied and cannot find time to speak to her mum who is really busy at home – circumstances like are common in Nottinghamshire families as they are elsewhere. Family life can be challenging sometimes and there’s no criticism inferred here at all.
“We are committed to helping parents through our work within the VRU- it’s a real priority for us in the team. We want to learn more from parents who may have been in this or a similar position because by doing this and listening we can gain valuable insight and a better understanding of how to respond.”
Courtney had been unemployed for several years when an opportunity arose to deliver educational workshops at Hyson Green Youth Club for hard-to-reach youngsters through his passion of music.
“From there, I got the idea I would like to do this on a full-time basis and Take 1 Studio was born,” he said.
“Making and recording music, DJ’ing and MC’ing is a way in. We found we were able to tap into clientele who would not normally attend projects or youth clubs. From running workshops, we’re now an independent school working with kids who have become disengaged from mainstream education.
“You can only do so much and we are just a small part of their life. We open their minds and make them see things on a wider scale and that there’s more to life but it’s for them to make that decision whether they want to go down that road.”
Based at the old library in Gregory Boulevard, Hyson Green, the school provides educational placements for up to 25 pupils. Facilities include a dance studio, ICT suite and recording studio.
The model has been hugely successful over the past 20 years with teachers working alongside other charities, community organisations and non-profit organisations to help young people thrive.
“Not all the children that come in are involved in gangs or crime, it might be a minor behavioural issue and their parents have reached out to us,” explained Courtney.
“We never tarnish anyone. They’re all given the same chance of growing and we always offer the family environment.
“The main thing is inspiring them. I’m not going to sit here and say we can end knife crime and violence - they have to make the change themselves. We just need to show them there’s more to life.”
Latest national figures show knife crime in Nottinghamshire has fallen eleven per cent in the year end to June 2020, bucking the regional trend which saw an average increase of seven per cent and national performance which saw a drop of just one per cent across England and Wales.
Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping said: “These results could not be achieved without our dedicated enforcement resources including the force’s knife crime team and the prevention work which is unravelling the roots of why some young people carry knives.
“I cannot thank community partners like Courtney enough for the work they do engaging with children who are most at risk and using their experience and knowledge to raise awareness across a wider field.
“This film is a snapshot of family life and reminds us all of the dangers of complacency when it comes to our children. We all have a part to play in ending violence and knife crime and it must start on our own doorsteps.”
Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: “The continued reduction we’ve seen in knife crime in Nottinghamshire, bucking national and regional trends, is great news and it’s really encouraging to see the VRU is making a difference as part of the huge collective effort being undertaken right across the force.
“Our success in tackling and reducing serious violence, including knife crime, is due to the relentless focus we have all collectively had here in Nottinghamshire, including with partnerships like the VRU.
“I am determined to ensure we use every possible tool to prevent violent crime happening on our streets. We will continue to work tirelessly, shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners and local communities, to reduce offending through a combination of education, engagement and enforcement.”
As a newly-appointed Community Ambassador, Courtney will use his vast experience in tackling problem behaviour to support the VRU's work, build relationships with local people and ensure communities have the resources and provision they need to help turn around lives.
“I hope I can bring my knowledge and passion. I’ve good experience using music and technology to engage young people and that’s what I want to bring to the VRU.
“Some people can be helped and some people can’t but we need to give them all that chance. We can’t solve everything because there’s not one cure. It’s about having the right people and professionals to identify how we can best work with a person to deal with their problems.”
For help and support on knife crime and violence please visit:
The Family Service: https://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/care/childrens-social-care/family-services
Some community-based organisations have been trained in the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities Programme which is designed for support for parents from diverse backgrounds.
For details of groups such as Support for Survivors and Mother's Voices, who can offer individual or group support, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.