A Liverpool campaign led by boxing coaches has continued to gain traction in a bid to tackle knife crime in the city.
The ‘Real Men Don’t Carry Knives’ project has had another successful year despite the Coronavirus pandemic.
Launched three years ago by youth worker Alan Walsh, Anfield Boxing Club works with young people in an attempt to combat knife crime.
It began when Alan was approached by the police following his 28-year career specialising in gang culture.
Now a team of volunteers has gone on to work with more than 200,000 pupils in schools including those involved in knife crime.
However, in 2019 knife crime had risen by 18% in the Merseyside area with 945 violent incidents reported to police.
Alan said: “It’s a fashion in my opinion, and it’s scaring people, people think everyone is carrying knives and they’re not.
”You see kids carrying knives who you wouldn’t expect to.”
He also believes there is a reasonable solution to tackling the problem.
“I think we need to see more campaigns; I would like to see funding going to the right people.
“The Government need to look where the money is going, it’s about identifying the right people to give the money to.”
To combat the problem, Alan and his fellow volunteers run schemes such as ‘The Pathway Project’ and ‘Sting Like A Bee.’
Now more recently, they have started working in collaboration with Alder Hey Hospital.
The campaigner and his team have formed a partnership in the past 12 months.
They now work alongside the safeguarding and trauma units to offer support to those who need it.
In the words of Walsh: “It’s about offering both short and long term support.”
Referring to the partnership, Alan added: “We now look at anybody coming into A&E showing any signs and try to work with them.
”We hope we never seen them again because that means we have done our job.”
With 2020 being a year of struggle for many companies and charities, Anfield Boxing Club have managed to turn a negative into a positive.
The ‘Real Men Don’t Carry Knives’ team have taken the time to consider how they can move forward next year.
“We are getting busier and it has affected the numbers we can work with.
“I will be honest it has given us time to rethink our approach and sit down and reflect.”
This has led to the project now planning on moving to a new location. Alan confirmed that in early 2021 they will be moving to Townsend Lane.
The hope is that the move will allow the team to work on more on the mental health of those they support.
Meanwhile there will be additional focus on engaging with their families.
Now that we are coming into the festive period there is an expectation that knife crime could rise.
With more people out and about and longer nights, the campaigner says there are a number of reasons for a rise.
“The numbers recorded are there and there is an increase of young people in parks drinking, nightclubs young people indulge in too much and there are less police on the streets.”
However, before the year is over Anfield Boxing Club are giving back to the local community in other ways.
All monies raised by the club this December are set to be given to charities collecting toys for children. This will also run alongside their ‘Sponsor a Boxer’ campaign this month.
The purpose of this is to donate to 18 families who cannot afford to feed themselves this Christmas.
And the motivation for such a fundraiser?
“It’s our way of giving back,” said Alan.