Upon entering Ministry of Sound the message of the campaign is clear ‘Start, think n’ S.T.O.P’ as you are met with a long list of young people that have lost their lives to gun and knife related crime. The mural makes it hard to ignore that each life was in its early stages as many of the victims were in their teens. Flowers were also laid out as a mark of respect.S.T.O.P stands for Solve This Ongoing Problem and is aimed at finding solutions within the community for gun and knife related crime. Speakers included Bob Evans from The Mirror and Toby Morgan from The Body Shop. The organiser and founder of the campaign Alexander Rose, worked there once upon a time and even applied for funding from their Body Shop Foundation but was refused. He later went on to become a panelist at the foundation helping to select worthwhile causes that deserved funding. The Body Shop also provided attendees the opportunity to receive a free hand massage and the chance to pitch for funding.
Richard Blackwood hosted the event and performers included Mr Midas, MSM and Kasha, who is a phenomenal performer who captured the hearts and minds of the audience (it may sound corny, but you had to be there to feel what I’m saying).
The theme of the event was education is the key, and part of that meant giving out keys made from melted down knives. So in order to receive a key, a pledge was required. Now those of you out there thinking, ‘eh, pledge? What’s this an allegiance?’ In this instance it was a case of committing to spread the message of the S.T.O.P campaign. A room was set aside to film these pledges in front of a S.T.O.P backdrop and a very professional looking camera/ production team. At the end of the night 8 of the many pledgers were chosen to receive a key. The key was actually quite heavy, not surprising really, as the words ‘I used to be a knife’ were on one side with the word education on the other.
Screens were on show throughout the venue that highlighted S.T.O.P up until that point and cuttings from newspapers on gun and knife crime, photos of supporters, such as members of Parliament, Swiss, shots from the People’s March and various statistics and information.
There was also a large board that people could leave their thoughts and messages on. Someone had even left their mobile number on there for all and sundry to see, there’s always one!
Towards the end of the night, Alexander [the organiser] gave a closing speech to thank all those in attendance and reminding everyone that ‘tonight is not about me, it’s about us, our voices are the key to change’. He also made a pledge of his own, and said ‘all the metal that is worn tonight are from police stations in South Wales and Yorkshire, not London. I am going to make sure that we spark from this event. I will work to create a national amnesty where people hand in their knives and receive a key.’
The event showed that creating a culture of communication is the best way to cultivate a lasting change. Thus giving people of all ages the opportunity to start a discussion on the problems within our communities, think about a solution and ultimately solve this ongoing problem.
Footage from the event will be broadcast in the next few weeks and you can find out more about Alexander’s campaign by checking out http://battlefront.co.uk/campaign/stop-gun-and-knife-crime/
Words by Natalie Vincent