Monday 17th February 2020
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12/02/2020 - Students to learn dangers of knife crime through theatre

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Anti-knife crime play It's No Joke being performed in Luton Schools. Image shows actors on stage with students watching.

Theatre performances for older students in primary and secondary schools in Luton aim to raise awareness of knife crime and antisocial behaviour.

​As part of our Community Safety Partnership's Serious Violence Strategy, the Flavasum Trust and partner agencies are working with us to bring two engaging and powerful theatre productions to be shown to pupils in Year 6 and Year 9.

Peter Sinclair, Chair of Trustees, Flavasum Trust said: “Knife crime devastates lives, families and communities. One of the best ways to combat it is to warn young people of the dangers of carrying knives while they are still at school and theatre is a very effective way to convey this message.

“Our research shows that these plays have an impact on pupils and their attitudes change significantly when they consider future actions such as ‘what to do if you know someone is carrying a knife’ – an important outcome that showed the interventions increased their confidence to negotiate safer paths for themselves and their peers, which can lead to safer families and local communities.”

After a successful run last year, ‘It’s No Joke!’ will be performed for school children aged nine and ten years old in Luton. The play uses humour to explain the damage knives can do – to the person carrying them, their friends and families, as well as to anyone unlucky enough to be a victim.

It's taking place at Chiltern Academy from 24 February to 6 March. A total of 1,500 Year 6 students from 16 primary schools will see the performances. This event has been funded by the Home Office. Barton Coach Company has sponsored the transport enabling pupils to be transported at a significantly reduced cost.

Councillor Mahmood Hussain, portfolio holder responsible for children and young people, said: “We are committed to protecting our communities and identifying ways in which serious youth violence can be prevented.

“When I watched ‘It’s No Joke’ last year with students, it was very encouraging to see them interacting with the actors and asking relevant questions. They were not just passively watching, they were invited to actively interact with the performances through debate and discussion. The shows left a lasting impression on them and I hope for the same from this year’s events.”

This year, a new production, 'Boy X', an interactive ‘forum’ style play written for older secondary pupils, is being shown to 2,000 Year 9 students in eight Luton secondary schoolsfrom11 to 20 March. The play involves the audience choosing the outcome of the story, in the process highlighting the impact of their choices, right or wrong.

‘Boy X’ is funded by Bedfordshire’s PCC and the specialist new Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), funded by the Home Office to help tackle the problem of young people’s involvement in gang, gun and knife crime.

Bedfordshire’s PCC, Kathryn Holloway said: “This project by the Flavasum Trust is exactly the sort of diversion and education programme I am so keen to support through the VERU. This is a really creative and innovative way to present the reality of knife crime and gang membership. Hopefully this can influence some of our young people into following a different path.

“The performance is just one of a range of programmes we are supporting through the VERU, the combination of which I believe will have a truly transformative effect on young people in Bedfordshire.”

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