A hard-hitting social media campaign exposing the horrors of violence and exploitation through the eyes of young people has won a national crime award.
#Stopviolence was funded by Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping to make young people and their parents aware of the shocking reality of knife crime and violence and also the support available to them in communities.
Developed by marketing firm Powell and Barns Group Ltd, the project amassed the personal experiences and views of 134 young people aged 13-25 across Nottinghamshire through a series of city and county focus groups, and private sessions, before recruiting performers from Bilborough College to retell some of the stories.
The series of films, covering gang culture, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, online bullying, ‘county lines’, intimidation and joint enterprise, have now won first prize in the Adult Led category of the National Crimebeat Awards, run by the High Sheriffs’ Association in England and Wales.
The awards aim to recognise the most innovative and successful crime prevention projects carried out by young people in the country.
Young people who took part in the project joined VRU Programme Manager Natalie Baker-Swift, campaign director Marceline Powell, Nottinghamshire PCC Paddy Tipping and Dame Elizabeth Fradd, Nottinghamshire High Sheriff for 2020, at a special virtual awards ceremony, hosted by Amanda Parker, Chair of National Crimebeat.
Paddy Tipping said: “This is a fantastic achievement and my warmest congratulations go to everyone involved in this project.
“#Stopviolence features the real stories of young people across Nottinghamshire – many of whom have been victims or witnesses of serious violence – which made the campaign all the more powerful and emotive.
“Their bravery in sharing their experiences is commendable and I am delighted their efforts have not only encouraged other young people to seek help and support but have also earned this national award.”
Campaign director Marceline Powell, from the Powell and Barns Group, added: “I am delighted to see the Hashtagng campaign get first place in the National Crimebeat Awards. I'm also delighted that Nottinghamshire has won this award for the first time, particularly against such high-quality projects.
“I have been passionate about developing a direct, hard-hitting campaign to raise awareness and help tackle issues behind youth violence and I feel honoured to have been commissioned by the VRU to make that happen in Nottinghamshire.
“This award is a massive testament to the talent of the young people who helped me tell the stories that were so bravely shared by others. I look forward to continuing working on the next phase of this important campaign.”
Dame Elizabeth Fradd, DBE DL, High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 2020, who has taken a keen interest in the VRU’s projects, added: “At the launch of the #Stopviolence social media campaign, I challenged the team to put the project forward for a National Crimebeat Award.
“Nottingham has in the past achieved both second and third place. I told them I wanted them to win – they did! I am delighted for all involved in the project, that their videos which are powerful, moving and impactful have gained the recognition they deserve. Many congratulations and my heartfelt thanks to the Violence Reduction Unit for their support.”
The first phase of the #Stopviolence campaign resulted in a series of nine videos which were shared across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.
Titles included ‘Going OT’ which used real audio of a young man involved in ‘county lines’, ‘Don’t Press Send’ which retold the harrowing story of a young girl who was sexually exploited online and ‘Two Sides’ which again used real audio of a young person who witnessed his friend being stabbed by a gang rival.
One parent remarked on Facebook: “As a mother of two teenage boys in Nottingham and my 15 year old son was so close to getting drawn into some dangerous stuff, I find this really moving.”
So far, the campaign has reached 142,181 of the target audience with males in the 18-24 age category having shown the most engagement.
A number of parents and young people have made enquiries to local organisations for intervention and were supported to tackle their needs while audiences also took advantage of the campaign’s support resources at https://www.HashtagNG.co.uk.
Due to the success of the initial campaign, the VRU commissioned a second phase in December 2020 with the aim of focusing on issues which have impacted young people during the pandemic.
This culminated in the production of a further two videos exploring experiences of domestic abuse, young people’s feelings of isolation and deteriorating mental health during lockdown and how violence or fear of violence is impacting on their safety and wellbeing.
Amanda Parker, chair of the National Crimebeat, said: “The #StopViolence campaign from Nottinghamshire was a deserving winner in the 2021 National Crimebeat Awards. The commitment of the young people was apparent, and their combining of creative arts with technology and social media to get their message across was inspirational.”
The National Crimebeat award comes with a £1,000 prize fund and the VRU is now planning to collaborate with a group of young people from high-risk areas of the city and county to determine how the fund can be spent to best support them and their peers.
This would involve a small youth-led project such as a series of online webinars to give them space to talk about the issues affecting them.
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401