“Coventry Needs Me Alive”: pupils unite for powerful knife crime message

Published Tuesday, 06 October 2020

A new anti-knife crime video has seen a group of Coventry children come together to deliver one clear message: “Our city needs us alive”.

Some of the Finham 2 pupils who took part in the video flanked by Head Russell Plester and drama teacher Rebecca O'Donnell
Some of the Finham 2 pupils who took part in the video flanked by Head Russell Plester and drama teacher Rebecca O’Donnell

The police approached Finham Park 2 school to take part in a YouTube project that sees pupils aged 11- to 16-years-old talking about the vital role they play in the city.

Their friendships, community work, sporting achievements, family bonds and education.

They are the future of Coventry – and the city needs them alive.

Coventry Police Commander Mike O’Hara, said: “The core message is that our young people are important and they make up the city’s future…so they don’t risk that future by carrying a knife.”

The video is part of our ongoing anti-knife crime campaign #LifeorKnife.

Shot over three days pre-lockdown, the video features pupils in everyday situations, at school, at home, and in the city centre. The script for the video has been based around each child’s skills, abilities and hopes for the future.

The Policeare pushing the video to young people on YouTube and Instagram and are working with schools across the city and beyond to open up positive anti-knife crime discussions. You can see the video on the YouTube.

Finham 2 was chosen because the teachers and pupils wanted to help spread the anti-knife crime message after they heard reports of knife crime incidents in parts of the city.

And all of the pupils have received Young Person’s Awards from our Chief Constable Dave Thompson in recognition of their contribution.

Head Teacher Russell Plester said: “Our students are passionate about their city…we were looking at anti-knife crime images in art and when we asked a group if they would be interested in taking part in the video they jumped at the chance.

“Most of them don’t study drama and have never been in front of a camera before but felt they had something they could contribute. They had something to say. 

“Knife crime continues to be an issue across the country, including in Coventry, yet the message to young people is not always easy to get across or effective. 

“I believe this video, with young people speaking to their peers, friends and neighbours, will have much greater impact than anything students can study in a lesson or hear from the police or teachers in an assembly.”

Michelle Kennell knows only too well the heartache and devastation caused by knife crime.

Her brother Daniel Kennell, from Coventry, was fatally stabbed by former school friend Ryan Preston during a fight in 2018. 

Preston was jailed for at least 22 years; he may never be released.

Michelle and other family members have since established the Daniel Kennell Foundation – a charity aiming to steer young people away from knife crime and support victims’ families.

She said: “Young people need to feel valued. We need to celebrate their potential and worth to our communities and creating opportunities to engage them, to give them a focus.

“That’s exactly the kind of thing we’ve been doing during on outreach projects. We’ve been getting out there on the streets, speaking to teenagers, and trying to create sporting, music or career opportunities for them.

“Too many young people feel lost or isolated…and that’s when they can turn to gangs, crime and potentially pick up a knife.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson said: “This is an important piece of work in the city. Our young people are our future and making sure they understand that there is never a good reason to carry a weapon, and the consequences if they do is key to tackle knife crime in Coventry.

“This video captures the talent of your young people, and all they will bring to our communities in the future. I’m pleased we’ve been able to make this through Project Guardian.

“We continue to work with young people and partners and this is just one part of a whole approach to tackling violence and trying to help our young people make good life chances.”

For more about the Daniel Kennell Foundation, visit their website.

For support or information search Knife Crime at WMP Online. 

Coventry City Council