A new social media campaign drawing on the real-life experiences of teenagers impacted by gang crime and violence has premiered in Nottingham.
#Stopviolence is a project funded by Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to speak to young people in their own language and medium to shatter myths about knife crime and exploitation.
Four new films – co-produced by young people – were unveiled at a special screening at the Broadway Cinema, attended by Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry, VRU board members, local leaders and stakeholders and young people involved in the production.
The films, which are now being released across social media platforms, explore themes of cuckooing/exploitation, trauma, online exploitation and girls in gangs and contain frank and often harrowing accounts of young lives lived in the grip of fear.
It is the second series of such films, commissioned following the huge success of the initial film and social media campaign last year.
Guests at the premiere were also given a sneak preview of a new and hard-hitting documentary commissioned by the VRU examining serious violence and exploitation through the eyes of young people and highlighting the underlying issues increasing risk in the city and county.
Commissioner Henry, who was a guest speaker at the event, added: “As you will see from the videos – there is a raw authenticity to the content, which whilst it may be harrowing in places, it has already shown that it can reach a vast number of children and young people in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire who may be experiencing similar issues.
“Furthermore - it helps us, as leaders and members of the community, to gain a glimpse into their lives, contributing to a better understanding of how we can support them as individuals and as valuable community members themselves, to thrive.
“As Commissioner and Chair of the Violence Reduction Unit, I feel that we have a duty to listen to the voices of young people and ensure that they are meaningfully involved in co-producing the interventions which will support them.”
Natalie Baker-Swift, Interim Head of the VRU, said: “We knew that we wanted a campaign that would have youth voice at its heart, that was absolutely authentic and that would unapologetically address the key themes connected to serious violence and exploitation.
“Whilst the young people who took part in the first social media campaign and the latest films are talented actors – the content is very real. The stories and experiences are real and it is expressed in their language, using their voice.
“It is only through this authenticity that we have been able to engage over 400,000 young people, exceed the national average reach and win a national award.
“What is most important is that through the HashtagNG website, we have captured young people’s attention and have been able to guide and sign post them to a powerful network of organizations who are skilled in offering support.”
Superintendent Kathryn Craner, Nottinghamshire Police’s knife crime lead, said: “These films give young people an insight into the realities of knife crime and other types of crime we work hard to tackle every day working closely with our partners.
“We were very pleased to provide access to our knife crime team in support of this campaign and I hope it will help shed even more light on the support which is available to vulnerable people.
"While the latest official figures show that knife crime has reduced significantly in Nottinghamshire, every incident has the potential to be serious and can be incredibly upsetting for the community. That is why we are committed to our continued reduction in knife crime, including an intensive programme of education in schools and community work with partners across Nottinghamshire.”
Young people were involved in every stage of the campaign’s delivery from determining key messages and storylines to taking part in acting, production and promotion.
Content for the films was generated during youth focus groups and discussions with young people aged 18-29 who have been involved with or were on the periphery of gang activity or have had a knife-related or violent crime experience in the past.
The campaign, which runs over eight weeks, signposts young people and their parents to support services and helplines to address violent behaviour and guides people on how to report crime.
It is backed by a dedicated website (www.hashtagng.co.uk), the 30-minute documentary film and a poster awareness campaign across the city and county’s bus stops and public spaces.
Links: Short version of documentary
All the videos and full-length documentary can be found at www.hashtagng.co.uk from 5pm Monday, 27 September 2021
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401