Editor’s comment: Ramzy Alwakeel
PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 April 2017
Nearly nine years after his son Ben was stabbed to death in the street, George Kinsella tells us this week we haven’t made enough progress in the fight against knife crime.
It is a fight to which George and his family have devoted themselves tirelessly and brilliantly, doing fantastic work through the Ben Kinsella Trust to reach and educate young people while researching how others are battling this evil to find out what works and what doesn’t.
And yet, this week, George’s words ring true. Another parent, Michelle McPhillips, speaks of her grief over the fatal stabbing of her son Jonathon just a few weeks ago. Nor is this an isolated case: reports of knife crime in England and Wales rose 11 per cent last year.
I was humbled to share a stage with George as we gave out this year’s Ben Kinsella Award on March 16. I believe strongly that celebrating and empowering young people is a big part of the battle to make our streets safer. Children need role models: not just adults but each other.
But awards can’t beat knife crime on their own. The causes are far from straightforward, but as youth budgets are slashed by successive governments, it’s hard not to see where more work could be done. Our council is to be commended for the extra £500,000 a year it is ploughing into the problem, but Islington is not an island.
That isn’t to say communities are powerless or blameless. Parents, friends and teachers must all play a part in reaching kids, and this is where the work of the Ben Kinsella Trust is so valuable. We will never know how many lives they have saved. But policymakers must pay greater heed to the Kinsellas’ work and research: it cannot be left to a charity to turn around young people’s lives. Without the government doing more to tackle deprivation and underinvestment in young people, the trust can only ever win half the battle.