Charity Lives Not Knives calls for more investment to help reduce Croydon youth violence
Eliza Rebeiro (on right) and her Knives not Lives team teaching kids about the dangers of knives, gangs and bullying at Whitehorse Manor Junior School
One of Croydon’s most active anti-knife crime charities has said more investment is needed if the town is serious about cracking down on youth violence.
Monique Rebeiro, Chief Executive of Lives not Knives (LNK) and the mother of founder Eliza, said they are feeling the pinch due after a cut in their own funding which is impacting on the work they do in schools.
And in the wake of the spate of stabbings in Croydon last month, Ms Rebeiro said Croydon Council and other authorities have to get their priorities right in terms of prevention work around knife crime.
The organisation has worked with more than 10,000 young people since they were set up in 2007 and have proved popular amongst the borough’s schools with its roadshow programme.
Eliza Rebeiro set up the charity after seeing her friends become victims of knife crime both getting injured and killed.
LNK have received grants and funding from the council previously, including £10,000 of ring fenced for their mentoring programme.
They have also recently opened a unit in the Centrale shopping centre where they hold job hunting workshops.
But money for their schools programme has dried up which has seen the number of youth workers going in to schools reduce from 10 to just one.
Monique Rebeiro said the charity are self funding the continuation of the programme which she says plays a vital role in getting young people to stay away from getting involved in knife crime.
She said: "More work needs to be done in the schools. The demand is there but there is just not funding to carry out the work.
"We used to be able to do a six week programme with hard to reach children as they are really beneficial but we have had to stop those now.
"I understand money is tight, but if this issue is a priority then I am sure more funding could be made available."
Mrs Rebeiro added: "The council are very quick to praise is which is great, and I noticed Gavin Barwell praised us in his blog after the Whitgift Centre stabbing, brilliant.
"It is great that they recognise our work, but it is not so great we are not getting the funding to keep this work going."
A Croydon Council spokesman said currently £680,000 is spent across the borough on working with young people and tackling youth crime and that Lives Not Knives is one of 15 local projects receiving support from the council.
The spokesman said: "Over the next six months we will be working with our providers and young people to redesign the offer to young people including those affected by knife crime.
"Take them to a prison and show them injuries of knife crime": Read our exclusive interviews with ex-offenders who lift the lid on the mindset of knife crime.
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