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#knifefree #peace hoardings

Published: 07 October 2020

A young woman whose cousin was stabbed to death was among young people who created graffiti artwork urging others not to carry knives.

White hoarding surrounding the former Thames Valley University site in the town centre has been transformed with colourful artworks designed by young residents with the slogans #knifefreeSlough, #peace and #dropit.

Twenty-six young volunteers from the youth charity Aik Saath, which stands for together as one, spent ten hours working with artist Alexis Milne to create the unique spray-painted murals.

Among the team was Aida whose 24-year-old cousin Ismail "Izzy" Mohammed died three weeks after being stabbed in the abdomen while at a skate park in the town in July 2017.

Three men were convicted of the murder of the amateur footballer and are serving life sentences.

Aida said taking part in the mural was particularly important to her and her family as they continue to live through the effects from knife crime.

The 18-year-old psychology degree student said: “Knife crime has had a massive impact on me and my family since 2017 I wanted to join in and do something positive.

“The message is just don’t go out with a knife. Not only is the family of the victim affected with the loss of life but the family of the perpetrator as well.

“Carrying a knife can take a life and for those who are caught and imprisoned their lives have been lost too.”

The work was completed as part of a partnership project between the council, Aik Saath and media company Resource Productions, and co-ordinated by Slough Violence Task Force.

Rob Deeks, chief executive officer of Aik Saath, said: “Aik Saath was founded on the idea young people are uniquely situated to reach each other with key messages.

“This campaign is entirely in keeping with this vision with young people leading it every step of the way and it is a privilege to support them to use their creativity to send such important messages to their peers about knife crime.

“The #knifefreeslough social media campaign launched in August stated alternative facts about knife crime including 99 per cent of young people do not carry knives challenging the perception of knife carrying amongst some young people. The social media campaign has already reached almost 3,000 people via Instagram.”

The Slough Violence Taskforce was set up by the council in October last year to coordinate multi-agency partners within the borough, providing a focused, evidence based response to serious violence, including knife crime.

Working with a number of statutory partners, education and voluntary groups, the taskforce is committed to using a variety of techniques from prevention through to intensive intervention in an endeavour to prevent the escalation of violence within the community, and working with people who have found themselves on a path to criminality.

Josie Wragg, council chief executive and chair of the taskforce said: “Not only have the plain white hoardings been transformed into eye-catching art work but it is created by and for the young people of the town.”

Dom Unsworth MBE and chief executive officer of Resource Productions said: “The aim is to engage with young people especially on digital platforms they use every day, getting them to share messages peer to peer, as well as across our amazing network of community partners.”

Aik Saath will be creating more social media content this year including a Tik Tok challenge encouraging anyone carrying a knife to #dropit.