Youthact! Project in
Waltham Forest


In June 2006 16 students from various Year 8 at George Mitchell school in Leyton set up their own Youth Act campaign team. The issue they chose to address is knife crime, an issue they all feel very strongly about.

Project started: Jun 2006

Supported by Gill Winstanley, a drama teacher and Danielle Hay, a learning mentor at their school, after looking at all the issues that affected their community, the group decided that the issue of knife crime, especially amongst young people, was one that they felt they had to address.

They worked hard, thinking about the various causes of knife crime and decided to focus on the fact that a lot of people got involved in knife crime because they had nothing better to do. They also felt that the community offered few opportunities to young people to improve their lives and this meant people were caught up in gang warfare and knife crime.

The group are looking at ways of improving awareness about knife crime within the school. One of their main aims is to develop an inter-school movement aimed at challenging the perception that it is cool to carry a knife, or in their words to reduce the amount of young people "shooting their mouths off about shanks all the time". The group feel that this makes people think that more people around them carry knives than in fact actually do and as a result there is an increase in young people carrying knives for "protection"

The group is currently working on a variety of workshops aimed at different audiences in the community: decision-makers (the police, the council, leaders of business associations) young people (in schools and youth clubs),parents and other interested adults.Each workshop will be designed to recruit people to support the campaign and the aim is to establish a borough wide scheme by 2008.

To date they have:

*Outlined their campaign and gained the support of their headteacher and other teaching staff.

*Created a display board in school to publicise the campaign.

*Organsied a week of assemblies in school for every year group to publicise the campaign and educate.(They used one of their dramas from the weekend residential, and created a powerpoint presentation to follow it)

*Ran a non-uniform day with the proceeds going towards the campaign, with a view to running a community workshop in 2007.

*Designed a questionaire to be handed out around the school consulting fellow students at the school about knife crime in their school and locality.

*Emailed people in power locally to get their support to see how they can work together inviting these decision-makers to their assemblies and workshops.

*Developed plans to run initial workshops in school before expanding to include the whole community.

"Our group have done really well since training and developing their campaign and skills the residential.They are really inspired.Danielle and I are really proud of them."

Gill Winstanley, Adult Supporter.

Youth Act training and campaigns are running throughout London. A national Youth Act Train the Trainers programme is also available. Please contact the Youth Act team for more information 020 7566 5033 or email Ade Sofola (

This project is based on the internationally successful Youth Act! programme of street law begun by Street Law Inc in the United States (, which has campaigned to increase provision for homeless people, challenge discrimination and reduce gun crime.

Printable version of this page. Printable version

Latest News