A Partnership Forged Over Ending Youth Violence
Ironworks Join Forces with the British Youth Council to Address a National Assembly

Recently, here at the British Ironworks Centre, we have had an amazing and very timely discussion with an incredibly inspirational group – the British Youth Council (BYC). Working to empower and support young people aged 25 and under to have an informed voice within their communities, the BYC aim to give youth the confidence to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally. They are a national body that span all across the UK, encapsulating England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island.

Early this year the BYC, alongside the UK Youth Parliament, launched their ‘Action Against Knife Crime’ campaign. The campaign calls for a significant reduction in knife crime through the engagement of young people in educational programmes, all in a bid to highlight the prevalence of violence seen across our nation. The main focus of the campaign is to demand the Government to combat violence through education in schools and community groups. Given the Knife Angel’s current UK tour and our requirement for all hosting cities to conduct 28-days of intensive educational programmes for their youth, our conversation with BYC over a partnership could not have come at a better time. With their views about the epidemic of knife related violence and aggression aligning so strongly with ours, it is as if the stars have aligned to bring us together on this important national journey.

On the 22nd of June, our Chairman, Clive Knowles, has been asked to address the BYC National Convention held at the University of Leicester, where he will also meet notable British Youth Council members and ambassadors of the UK Youth Parliament. The event has been specifically designed as a training day for young representatives to come together and share campaigning goals, develop their skills, and be inspired by national speakers. We are honoured to have been asked to give a talk about the Knife Angel’s story, its educational journey, and the action that young people can take in relation to helping communities to benefit from the sculpture.

Frankly, there is some deficit in our knowledge when it comes to offering advice to cities about educational engagement programmes. It has also come to our attention that, through the Knife Angel’s important message of anti-violence and anti-aggression, many other sensitive issues are touched upon such as racial intolerance, religious discrimination and LGBT+ acceptance. Given this lack of material and lack of response from the ministers we have previously contacted, there is currently no way for us to govern the quality and regulation of each city’s programme. We want to ensure that every programme is intensely beneficial to all youth involved and will remain prevalent long after the Knife Angel has left a specific location - something which is proving very difficult to do alone as a private enterprise.

With the Knife Angel’s journey currently set to continue well into 2020, and even 2021, it is exceptionally important that we gain the appropriate expertise to help navigate these multiple issues effectively and, given the success of the Angel, we are now at a point whereby the sculpture and its journey needs to be taken over by a governmental body or minister’s office. Through the BYC’s contacts and influence, we hope other national and governmental institutions will also step up to help maximise the benefit that the Knife Angel can have nationally and, eventually, internationally. Whether that help be through advice, logistical assistance or opening doors to other youth groups and institutions.

We are very excited to start working alongside the British Youth Council and the UK Youth Parliament, who will be helping us to define and structure our 28-day educational requirement for all Knife Angel hosting cities. They will be utilising their youth group and council contacts across the UK to ‘interact’ with the Knife Angel in each hosting city. The representatives will be tasked with holding constructive educational events, igniting conversation, and influencing beneficial activity to help fulfil the Angel’s original objective to turn the tide on violent behaviour and aggression. We are so thankful to the BYC for all of their help and look forward to working together to decrease the ever-increasing knife crime figures that currently plague our nation.