The #KnifeFree campaign was doomed before it even properly started. An opportunity to make a tangible difference through financial and emotional investment in communities crying out for help, has been squandered; spaffed up the wall, if you will.

The latest installation of #KnifeFree is the 'Chicken Box' campaign, presumably dreamt up by white middle class marketing people, has cost the Home Office £50k+ of public money. The idea is that 'true stories' on the inside of takeaway boxes will suddenly inspire the consumer to make a 'positive' change.

That's obviously assuming that the consumer carries a blade.

That's obviously assuming that the consumer wants to engage with someone's 'true life story' while devouring their strips and wings.

And, that's obviously assuming that the consumer doesn't fall from their chair laughing at a polished narrative that is so far removed from their own lives and communities, it acts as another reinforcement of a feeling of how little the government really thinks of, or understands, them. Suggestions of 'looking up to the right people' won't wash with those living in a world where violent crime is the only way they can see to survive.

It's not funny. It's not funny at all. In fact, it's very dangerous.

In a society where young people repeatedly cite that they carry weapons in order to feel safe, I'd like to know why the Home Office thought it appropriate that a potential route to ending violence on our streets was to launch such a lazy campaign seemingly based on racist stereotypes. What results are they expecting to see? In a government obsessed with targets and KPIs, what will be the measure of success for this campaign? And, more importantly, how will they disentangle any positive outcomes from the work of hundreds of unsung community members who are doing their best, with very little, to support those most at-risk of becoming involved in this type of crime.

As someone who is a passionate advocate for working class young people, I'd like to know where the voice of young people has *actually* informed this campaign. Working day-in, day-out with young people, I just cannot see any of them suggesting that writing messages in chicken boxes would prick their interest enough to stop and think about something that is, in reality, a public health issue. 

I'd like to know when the Home Office are going to actually listen to young people, youth workers, teachers, community leaders, and everyone else living and breathing in these communities, who could give them a million and one ways to tackle the underlying (and sometimes obvious) causes of knife crime, without token campaigns designed to evidence that they are 'doing something about it.' 

- Becky Bainbridge, Director of Programmes, RECLAIM Project.


RECLAIM is a youth leadership and social change organisation. We are a small but bold charity, using our experience and platform to support and amplify the voices of working class young people. 

RECLAIM exists to end the leadership inequality that prevents working class young people with talent, imagination, ambition and drive, from fulfilling their leadership potential. We support young people who refuse to be silent: they fight for their voices to be heard.

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