Lockdown has hit young people hard. It has closed their schools, youth clubs, and restricted social contact with their peers. With many of the positive influences removed from young people’s lives, lockdown has made it far easier for criminal gangs to groom and exploit them.
A recent report from the National Youth Agency entitled Hidden In Plain Sight confirms this, stating
“the pandemic has amplified vulnerabilities and exposed young people to gang-associated activities and exploitation. Over one million young people face risks from any of the so-called ‘toxic trio’ of living in households with addiction, poor mental health, and domestic abuse”.
It goes on to mention that
“with schools, colleges and youth centres closed, many young people are now in potentially unsafe environments. This adds to the 700,000 young people (aged 8–19) who are persistently absent from school or not in education, employment or training and will need sustained support post-lockdown”
Normally over 2500 young people would visit The Ben Kinsella Trust’s exhibition between March and July. But this year with schools shut and most operating remotely, young people have been missing out on these valuable extra-curriculum activites which focus on keeping them safe and diverting them away from knife crime.
In response, The Ben Kinsella Trust is launching a series of free PSHE lesson plans for use by teachers, parents, and youth workers. These lesson plans include video testimony from people with lived experience of knife crime. The resources have formed part of the Trust’s award-winning Choices and Consequences workshops and this is the first time that they have been released for use outside its exhibition.
Patrick Green, CEO of The Ben Kinsella Trust outlined the importance of releasing these lesson plans at this time
“The underlying causes of knife crime have not gone away and I want to thank the London Community Foundation for supporting us with this venture. We know that lockdown has created a situation where many young people have been isolated from the services and organisations that are there to protect them. We know too that gangs are exploiting this by using lockdown to recruit more vulnerable young people. That is why we are releasing these free lesson plans to help teachers, parents and youth workers educate young people about the real impact knife crime has on victims and offenders, and how gangs will only seek to exploit and use them. We urge all schools and youth groups to use these free materials and join us in the fight to stop knife crime”
Our lesson plans and associated resources will be released throughout next week and will be made available for free to download and use by teachers, youth workers and parents.