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Grime stars join Mayor of London to launch anti-knife campaign with hard-hitting message

PUBLISHED: 13:07 15 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:56 28 March 2018

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was joined by grime artist Yungen, urban poet Hussain Manawer, blogger The Slumflower and young people at the anti-knife campaign launch today. Picture: Emma Youle

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was joined by grime artist Yungen, urban poet Hussain Manawer, blogger The Slumflower and young people at the anti-knife campaign launch today. Picture: Emma Youle

Archant

The Mayor of London issued a rallying call to young people across the capital today as he launched a new anti-knife campaign saying: ‘Don’t carry a knife, we need you alive’.

Backed by influential young grime and rap stars, poets and bloggers, Sadiq Khan unveiled the social media campaign aimed directly at young people.

It will spread a message focusing on the value and potential of London’s teenagers, as it asks them to make an active choice not to pick up a weapon.

The campaign comes as knife crime across the capital has risen by 31 per cent in the last year.

Forty young people under the age of 25 have been fatally stabbed on the capital’s streets since January - including many from north and east London.

Young Londoner Deno displays his poster at the launch event. Picture: Emma Youle Young Londoner Deno displays his poster at the launch event. Picture: Emma Youle

Mr Khan said: “Too many of our young people are being senselessly lost to knife crime. It has to stop.

“We can’t solve the problem by police enforcement alone, we need to get the message across that our young Londoners are too valuable to risk their lives by carrying a knife.”

A hard-hitting video will form the backbone of the campaign, which is supported by some of the capital’s most influential young social media and music stars.

Ilford performance poet Hussain Manawer and grime artists Yungun and Bossman Birdie, who hail from Tottenham, were at the launch, as well as blogger and radio personality The Slumflower.

The mayor and social media stars meet young people at the launch. Picture: Emma Youle The mayor and social media stars meet young people at the launch. Picture: Emma Youle

Urban poet Hussain said he was championing the initiative to drive awareness and build solutions.

“I’ve known young people who have been stabbed and, unfortunately, someone who was killed due to knife crime, so this topic is close to my heart,” he said.

“Campaigns such as ‘London Needs You Alive’ give visibility to something that can break families and tear apart societies.”

Rapper Yungen said: “I know what it’s like to be from an estate and how easy it is to get caught up in drama, and now I’m in a position to see there is more to life. I wanna share that with younger people who may have more potential than they feel they do.”

The words of one 14-year-old who took part in the workshop. Picture: Emma Youle The words of one 14-year-old who took part in the workshop. Picture: Emma Youle

The family of Ben Kinsella, who have worked to raise awareness of the consequences of knife crime since the 16-year-old was fatally stabbed in Islington in 2008, have also backed the campaign.

Ben’s sister Brooke, a former Eastenders star, said: “We need to remember that knife crime doesn’t just destroy one life, it destroys countless lives. That’s why I’m supporting the mayor’s campaign.”

The mayor joined a group of 14-year-olds taking part in a creative workshop at the launch in Brixton and joked with one boy that he was jealous of his 100,000 Instagram followers.

But, more seriously, Mr Khan also spoke of his determination to nurture the talent of young Londoners, highlighting that social media alone will not tackle the rising number of stabbings on London’s streets.

Urban poet Hussain Manawer is supporting the campaign. Picture: Emma Youle Urban poet Hussain Manawer is supporting the campaign. Picture: Emma Youle

He said the campaign comes as part of a targeted package of measures on knife crime, and called on police, schools, faith and civic leaders to play an active role in encouraging youngsters not to carry knives.

“By showing the incredible young people of our city how much we need and value them, we could save countless lives,” he said.

Watch the London Needs You Alive video via this link.

* This newspaper will be publishing a special series of reports on knife crime and its impact on local communities in coming weeks. If you have something to say, contact investigations journalist Emma Youle on emma.youle@archant.co.uk or call 020 7433 0122.

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