University students hear from those with first-hand experience of knife crime as part of work to help Sheffield schoolchildren

Law students from Sheffield Hallam University have heard from those with first-hand experience of knife crime as part of a project to help schoolchildren in the city avoid a life of crime.

Saturday, 22nd February 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 27th February 2020, 4:21 pm

The final year students, who are studying a social law module, gathered to hear from Dr Bankole Cole, a reader in criminology, and 24-year-old Blair Adderley about their experience with knife crime on Friday, February 21.

Dr Cole conducted research on knife crime in London that later helped form The Ubuntu Round Tables Project led by Youth Futures and the Tutu Foundation UK charity with joint funding support from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and Sir John Cass’s Foundation to help youth provisions in different areas of the capital.

What the students learned will help shape work with young people at Sheffield Springs Academy where they will deliver sessions on knife crime, gangs, and safety, as well as dispensing legal advice.

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Dr. Bankole Cole, Reader in Criminology and Human Rights and Blair Adderley, pictured.

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Sue Bulley, principal lecturer for the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam, said: “They’re teaching the young people about various socio-legal issues – everything from e-safety, knife crime, stop and search, joint enterprise which is about gangs, refugee law, asylum seekers and they have to tailor the law to make it an exciting, engaging and interesting class for the young people.

“This is the second year we have invited members of Bankole’s research team because it gives the students the chance to hear from somebody who has lived it and really turned their life around and is now able to make a difference and we’re trying to make a difference in our own small way in Sheffield.”

The Ubuntu Round Tables Project was evaluated by The Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice and piloted across 10 London Boroughs.

Dee Leon, Tommy Atkins, both students, Dr. Bankole Cole, Reader in Criminology and Human Rights, Blair Adderley, Anna Lester, student, Sue Bulley, Prinicpal Lecturer and Molly Hill, Department Administrator and Marketing officer.

Making use of ‘Ubuntu,’ a South African approach to ‘togetherness and responsibility towards others,’ championed by Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, police and local government considered the project’s results.

It is hoped it will now be championed in other areas and secure funding to help young people build positive relationships with the police and help steer them away from crime.

Dr Cole said: “It’s about bringing young people in – those who have done it, those who are bound to do it and those who live in areas where they might be influenced by it. Youth Futures and the Tutu Foundation UK charity are now using the experience gathered from the ten projects to work with these people in more areas.”

Blair, from London, was kicked out of school at 14 and wasn’t allowed in a pupil referral unit because of the people he associated himself with.

Dr. Bankole Cole, Reader in Criminology and Human Rights and Blair Adderley, pictured.

Now the owner of a streetwear clothing brand and a Roundtable project facilitator, he spoke to the students about his own experiences – which includes being shot at and nearly ran over – and mentioned the importance of early intervention among other aspects.

He said: “I wasn’t able to get back into school so I had a lot of free time on my hands and I ended up going to Youth Futures as an escape.

“I do acknowledge that we can’t reach every single person but the people who we have reached have really turned their life around. We’ve seen young people who were on a downward spiral end up in university.

“It’s about trying to give the young people something to look forward to. We offer training to become a facilitator, help broaden their horizons and show them other ways to increase their finances other than crime.

“It’s important because young people need to see people who have done all this and come out the other end, not only people who they resonate with but also professionals.”