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'Fantastic' response to knife crime campaign in Sheffield

Sheffield Wednesday star Gary Hooper shows his backing for the Don't Be A Tool campaign which was launched to stop knife crime (pic: Don't Be A Tool)
Sheffield Wednesday star Gary Hooper shows his backing for the Don't Be A Tool campaign which was launched to stop knife crime (pic: Don't Be A Tool)
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A campaign to blunt knife crime in Sheffield is gaining momentum, with around 20 community leaders now on board and the first workshops in the offing.

Don't Be A Tool was launched by two fathers determined to halt the rising tide of violence on the city's streets by raising awareness and providing more opportunities to young people at risk of being drawn into gangs.

Firefighters in South Yorkshire lend the campaign their backing (pic: Don't Be A Tool)

Firefighters in South Yorkshire lend the campaign their backing (pic: Don't Be A Tool)

The initiative has quickly won the support of the city's leading sports clubs, police and businesses, along with many community groups keen to work with its founders to make their streets safe again.

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So far, about 20 people have volunteered to become 'positive activity leaders' (PALs), who will receive training before working to help young people stay safe and make the most of their talents.

The first training workshop is due to take place on September 8 in Sharrow, where it will be hosted by the Mums United group set up to stamp out crime and anti-social behaviour.

Further workshops are planned in Burngreave, Firth Park and at Mount Pleasant in Highfield, and young ambassadors are now being sought to help shape the activities provided for the city's youths.

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Don't Be A Tool co-founder James Swallow-Gaunt told how he is delighted by the response so far and believes that by working together people can make a real difference.

"I've been taken aback by the fantastic support we've had in such a short space of time, not just from the police and local businesses but from members of the community," he said.

"It shows that people have had enough of young people carrying blades and being hurt in any kind of youth violence.

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"There are people out there who are passionate about making a difference and we're trying to support them as best we can to achieve that.

"If we can save just one life it will have been worth doing."

People have been encouraged to raise awareness of the campaign by sharing photos of themselves holding up the Twitter hashtag #DontBeATool, with Sheffield Wednesday striker Gary Hooper among those showing their backing.

Alpha Recruitment has pledged to work with clients to provide more opportunities for young people, including ex-offenders looking to go clean, and the British Martial Arts & Boxing Association is also on board.

Supporters plan to walk from Sheffield to Leeds this October to publicise the initiative, which it is hoped will eventually connect groups across the country and help stop so-called 'county lines' drug lords exploiting vulnerable young people.

* For more information about the campaign, follow @DontBeATool2 on Twitter or search using the hashtag #DontBeATool.