Knife Crime - and why I wrote My Life's not Funny
The story is a tough one - a young girl loses her brother to knife crime and risks becoming sexually trafficked.
For the last twenty or so years I have worked with vulnerable families, youth and children, across different social and economic groups and cultures. The one thing most of them had in common was that they had been let down by services that were supposed to be there to protect and support them.
Today Cressida Dick spoke out about falling police numbers contributing to the issue of knife crime, after two more fatal and tragic stabbings, despite the former PM stating there was no correlation.
Knife crime, violence, children being pulled into criminal gangs and delivering drugs, sexual trafficking and youth offending is not a binary issue - we can't just blame lack of police. The crisis for families in so many areas of the UK, Canada and the USA alike are due to a significant loss of social, arts and outdoor programmes that engage with young people. All young people, not just a privileged few.
In the UK, cuts by the Tory and Labour governments before them, to social activities, youth clubs, arts activities, libraries and schools have meant that hundreds of thousands of young people have been left out, their well being and needs neglected. And when people feel or are left out, they find somewhere they can belong or they are pulled into belonging somewhere they may not want to be.
Coronation Street is currently running a story line involving violence, two of the youth at the centre of the attack (not the victims) both have neglect in common. One kid is from a rich family, the other not.
The neglect that has been inflicted by government after government pulling spending from people who should matter most, our children, is an appalling blight on Western Society.
I wrote My Life's not Funny in the hope I could reach readers - adults to show them the risks young people face and young people to encourage them to believe in themselves and stand up to anyone who tries to use them criminally. The story is based on a series of real life situations from stories told to me by young people in the UK and in Canada.
I am planning to donate some of the profits from sales of the book to a youth organisation in Carlisle, a small gesture that I hope they can use to make a small difference.