First-hand experience from others that understand

#2 Let’s Talk Youth Violence – London Needs You Alive Campaign


At the end of last year, Sadiq Khan launched his anti-knife crime campaign with a video aimed at spreading the message among young people, that ‘London Needs You Alive’. Four months later, the video has received a meagre 11,000 views on YouTube, equating to just 1.7% of the 655,000 teenagers living in London today. With the best of intentions, Khan’s campaign does not appear to have triggered the desired effect, and has received public backlash both across social media platforms and in the press. So why has this seemingly positive and inspirational campaign missed the mark?

On the surface, the video has the components of an impactful advert; a fast beat, an urban setting, young people laughing and smiling, and a catchy slogan. But it feels disingenuous and disconnected from its subject matter, and undermines the complexity and severity of youth violence in the capital. We do not want the Mayor’s campaign to feel the same as a brand trying to speak to young people, as this results in the subjugation of the issue. It is undeniable that the video is well produced, however, the question has to be whether it is really making any kind of significant impact in preventing knife crime.

The media strategy deployed similarly appears to subscribe to the formula adopted by many brands today. Unsurprisingly, this comprises of a campaign hash tag, a dedicated Instagram page, and a selection of influencers used to bolster credibility and reach amongst teenagers.

Whilst it is not uncommon for brands today to set up Instagram pages specifically to support campaigns, they rarely work effectively. They tend to start off relatively strong, with frequent posts and good quality content, however they start to wane in relevancy as the campaign lifetime goes on. The ‘LNYA’ page looks as though it has already have fallen victim to this pattern, with the last post uploaded nearly two months ago on the 30th January. In the knowledge that the campaign was due to receive six months’ paid support starting November, it appears as if this may have been cut off earlier than planned. The content itself lacks depth and inspiration, with half of the posts simply superimposing the campaign slogan on top of an image. With a limited following of only 1,300 people, the lack of impact that this campaign has had is obvious.


A hash tag can be an effective way to create traction for a message, yet the benefits are lost if few people decide to use it. Only around 170 Tweets have featured the slogan ‘London Needs You Alive’ since the start of the campaign in mid-November, with only around 40 mentions so far in 2018. Even Khan’s efforts to employ influencers appears to have backfired, with The Mayor of London’s office re-tweeting Tweets from Jessie J, John Boyega and Lethal Bizzle, only to find out that the Tweets were fake and therefore subsequently had to be taken down. This is, of course, an innocent mistake on behalf of the Mayor’s Office, however it just serves to fuel the fire of backlash that this campaign
has suffered.
Perhaps the most crucial mistake that was made is that the video solely focuses on why
you shouldn’t carry a knife. This angle feels far too simplistic, however, and even Khan himself alludes to this in his MOPAC report, through the admission that young people are aware of the implications of carrying a knife, yet choose to do it anyway. The focus should therefore be on educating around why young people do carry knives, and informing the capital on what can be and is being done to prevent this. You can even take this one step further, and argue that the issue actually has nothing to do with knives, and that it is a symptom of young people feeling disenfranchised with
society, and losing hope of another way of life.

It is exactly the complexity of the issue, which provokes me to arrive at a conclusion that an advertising campaign was not a necessary arm to Khan’s combat strategy. In contrary to raising awareness, the campaign has received minimal exposure with largely negative feedback. The overarching sentiment that I have interpreted from social media, is that the campaign has actually served to distract from and discredit the work that Khan is doing ‘off camera’ to address knife crime. Upon reflection, I am left feeling that the money spent on the ‘London Needs You Alive’ advertising campaign could have been far better spent, on helping to fund a project that would have had meaningful impact on preventing and tackling the issue of knife crime amongst young people in our




#1 Let’s Talk Youth Violence – Social Media



Research carried out by the Guardian found that in 2017, 39 children and teenagers were killed by knife crime in England and Wales. This statistic becomes contextualised upon considering that last year was the second worst year for knife fatalities of this kind since the late 1970s. Disturbingly, 70% of all murders were committed by an individual or individual’s aged 20 or under, with 40% under the age of 16. Around 50% were black males living in London, and the majority of crimes were motivated by gang culture.

While the overall rise in crime rates in the UK is directly correlated with the government’s substantial cuts to police services budgets, there are other factors that should be considered, particularly when focusing on youth violence. It is a fact that a number of knife fatalities recorded last year were motivated in response to a taunt or threat on social media. This therefore suggests that the influence that online communication can have on facilitating and inciting violence amongst young people needs to be formally addressed.

Pressure has been mounting over the past few years for the most popular social networks to tighten regulations on the type of content that is created, and the way that it is distributed, across their respective platforms. If a vulnerable child is friends with and follows pages that post and share violent content, this will fairly quickly be all that fills their social feeds. The next consideration is that the typical dynamic of a social algorithm means that posts with the highest number of views and engagements, related to your preferences, are prioritised in an individual’s homepage or news feed. Upon considering that it is the most extreme content that drives the highest volume of social noise, the outcome of this mechanism becomes particularly sinister in the context of violence. The implications of this are that a young person, who may have only been on the periphery of gang culture, becomes rapidly immersed in this way of life through the consumption of highly aggressive content online. There is a plethora of content posted and shared daily; ranging from rival gangs threatening to attack each other; to groups filming themselves stabbing victims; to individuals gloating after having killed someone. Shockingly, some of these videos receive upwards of a million views, which implies that the individuals seen on camera hold a status and an influence that impressionable young people are aspiring towards. It is easy to see how this could provoke a teenager to mimic these actions and attitudes in an attempt to gain similar heights of notoriety. This serves to render the question as to how these posts are allowed to gain the traction they do across social platforms, and the solution for this needs to be more effectively addressed and implemented within the platforms themselves.

Social Media Logotype Background

The notion of not wanting to ‘lose face’ is synonymous with gang culture, and only becomes intensified when conflicts transfer online. Social media ensures that the audience to any given exchange, between rival gangs or individuals, could be increased by up to a hundred, or even a thousand, fold. With this larger audience, comes an exacerbated impulse to retaliate. Tragically, this has been the motivating factor behind a number of youth knife fatalities within the last year. This is also true in relation to all crimes amongst young people, demonstrated by the figures published by the HM Inspectorate of Probation at the end of last year, showing that in one in four cases examined, the young person’s social media was directly related to the offence they committed. A possible reason for this is that social media offers a level of confidence and defiance that young people would not otherwise possess. It is far easier for an individual to make a severe threat behind the supposed shield of a computer or phone, as opposed to standing face to face with your ‘rival’. It is when a virtual argument becomes a real-life tragedy that the lines between the two spheres become blurred, and the severity of the impact that one has on the other becomes irrefutable.


Unfortunately this is not an issue which is likely to subside, as social media becomes ever more intrinsic in young people’s lives. Surely the key words here, therefore, are education and regulation. Not just in allusion to the social platforms themselves, however arguably more importantly, in reference to the authority figures in young people’s lives that require the knowledge to be able to understand the mechanism of social media, and the authority to be able to regulate it. A young person has a personal log in to a social platform or messaging app and in most cases their parents, teachers and even the police, have little to no capacity to monitor their activity. This needs to be addressed formally by the government by putting pressure on social platforms to disrupt this lack of supervision, especially for young people under the age of 16, and to create programmes to educate figures of authority on ways of detecting and preventing this type of behaviour online. Social media is a complex labyrinth that is constantly evolving, and therefore there should be a destination that consolidates updates and advances that could be relevant to safeguarding our youth.

In considering the means through which social media can exacerbate and facilitate youth violence, the question arises as to whether a significant share of the 39 fatalities that took place last year, would still have occurred had it not been for social media. It may on the surface appear as if they wouldn’t have, when reflecting upon how a young boy stabbed and killed another young boy, all because of a comment he posted on Facebook. It must be acknowledged, however, that tragically most young people killed by knife crime are involved in gang culture in their day-to-day lives, both on and offline. Social media therefore is far more likely to exacerbate the problem as opposed to create it, however this does not mean that tackling the issue is still not of the gravest importance.

Through the exposure to graphic and violent content online, vulnerable young people are being sub-consciously taught to disregard the value of another person’s life. Social media is giving them the largely unsupervised means to express and escalate an aggression and anger that, on tragic occasion, ends in the loss of life. In order to combat the devastating affects of this, social platforms, governments and organisations alike, must come together to empower local communities, families and teachers to better understand this space, to more effectively prohibit the force of the violent catalyst that social media has the capacity to be.


Celebrity awards Presented At “Just Giving “Event

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On the 22nd November 2016, Tracey Ford CEO and Founder of “JAGS” Foundation along with Criminologist Researcher Emilia Gill attended the “Just Giving Awards Gala Event”.  Over 14.000 people were nominated to receive rewards, however, there could only be image1-3twenty-four  finalists .Those who made it to  the finals, each had a different charity focus. For example finalist Dean Ovel was nominated “Creative Fundraiser” of the year due to building a human size hamster wheel out of wood. Dean ran on the hamster wheel for 24 hours in public view, which raised just under  £8000 to support the Southend hospital charity “Dementia Appeal”.


Another fantastic finalist was four-year old Lyla who showed a selflessness wanting to donate clean water to children in developing  countries for her fifth birthday. Instead Lyla’s parents received donations which were forwarded to the charity “Water aid” instead of presents for Lyla.This raised a whooping £1.700.image4

There were also a celebrity nominations ,one being Henry Cavil Ambassador for the Royal Marines Charity and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The nominated celebrity winner Jodie Kidd , was awarded by “JAGS” very own Tracey Ford. Jodie raised over £25.000 to support the “Help for Heroes” Charity by climbing 19.341 feet and cycling with wounded veterens.The money will go towards those veterans who suffer from depression and anxiety. Tracey reiterated “the evening was a great one with a beautiful dinner and stories told that could make you cry” .We can only imagine how good it felt to hand an award to such an amazing young woman.

Thank you “Just Giving” for inviting us to such a super event.

Blogged by:

Natasha Boatswain

JAGS Foundation Criminologist Researcher

A Great Celebration OF Life


On the 20th November 2016 “JAGS Foundation held their 2nd “A Celebration of life event”. The event marks the birthday of James Andre Godfrey Smartt- Ford who was a tragic victim of youth violence in 2007.The celebration of Life event also brings an awareness to the  community regarding the harsh reality such crimes has on local communities and familys. The host of the event Chris Preddie was himself awarded an OBE from the Queen for his outstanding contribution to youth work in 2012.



There were a number of  great artists in attendance, with many raffle prizes being given out. Singing artist Dayna Pearson along with Singer Zhane sang a number of songs that were well received by everyone. Natalie Twum -Barima was the spoken word guest along with Glitch. D Martian rapped regarding subculture and environment which was very enlightening to how the youth see today’s society.


It was a pleasure to have Yvette Edwards on board, author of “The Mother”. Yvette read from  pages of her book about a young boy who lost his life at 16 years old. The event was a celebration of Life  but also a reminder of the struggles communities continue to face in 2016.

CEO Tracey Ford thanked everyone for attending remembering her son Andre’s birthday and reiterating that he continually missed. The event was a huge  success and a reminder that if a community works together change can take place, ideas can be shared and things can get better.


Blog created by:

Natasha Boatswain

JAGS Foundation Criminology Researcher/Blogger


Sista Figure in Partnership with Healthwatch


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On the 28th October JAGS Foundation hosted Sister Figure, a day of workshops aimed to empower young women and talk about issues we face in contemporary society.

The event ran all day and started with a discussion about family and relationships, and the importance of having someone to talk to about problems. It then moved on to a poetry and spoken word workshop, with a key theme being ambition without limits.  Our Guest Speaker, the Truth Poet, led the workshop, starting with her own poem and then teaching the girls how to write themselves. She told her story of how poetry helped her escape trouble she found in her life, and how creativity can be a useful release of stress.


After lunch Jill from the NHS spoke, asking about access to health services and evaluating the girls recent experiences of NHS services.  We spoke about what could be improved and what was working, within schools and clinics.


After this Ebi spoke about the empowerment of young women, and not striving for celebritism, in the form of Kardashians, or other celebrities that young girls see as the perfect woman, when in reality it is more important to be comfortable in your own skin and to love yourself.

We would like to say a huge thank you from JAGS Foundation to Healthwatch and the NHS for funding the event, without their support we wouldn’t be able to run the day and inspire local young woman. Thank you also to all the girls that came!

Words by Emilia Gill – JAGS Researcher


JAGS Foundation Updates

Black Youth Achievements Finalists 2016 

The BYA Awards aims to recognise, reward and promote the positive actions and accomplishments of young black people throughout the United Kingdom. The event will be held on the 26th November 2016.



Thank you to the judges for our nomination!


Come and have your say about health services young people 11-18. Were holding a ‘Sister Figure’ workshop focused on young womens health and wellbeing during half term.The well-being practitioners will deliver short therapeutic head massage sessions and  spoken word artist will  engage with the participants on the sensitive issues of  teenage pregnancy, sexual health.

We will be working in small focus groups, giving the NHS and external speakers the opportunity to hear first hand information in groups and to  receive one-to-one feedback on the level and types of services needed and  being accessed within young people in the Borough.

I’m a Sista Figure

Words by Emilia Gill – JAGS Researcher


Street Doctors

This year JAGs Foundation will be speaking at Street Doctors Conference on the 28th October in Birmingham. They work to educate young people on how to provide simple first aid in order to prevent fatal injuries. They have taught life skills to just under 2,000 people.

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Celebration of Life event – 20th November

Join us on the evening of Sunday 20th November to remember all the young lives lost to youth on youth violence. WE come together through live music, talented young performers, singers, spoken words and much more. It will be a fun filled evening with raffle prizes and much more.
Book your early tickets today using the link :

Dover Rotary Club

On the 28th April Tracey Ford visited the Dover Rotary Club to speak about youth on youth violence and pass on the message to help young people to get involved in their community, and help provide opportunities. Members asked Tracey about laws surrounding parenting and protection of children, and Tracey told the story of how JAGS began and the developments within the organisation 9 years on. She spoke about her work in schools and JAGS focus on educating and preventing young people about violence.

We would like to thank the Rotary Club for their hospitality.

Words by Emilia Gill – JAGS Researcher

JAGS with Rotary

Brighton Paris Cycle Fundraiser

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 My journey – DAY 1

On the 30th March I woke up at 6am and attached my rucksack to the back of my bike. Feeling extremely nervous I cycled down to Brighton Pier to meet the group of people I was going to cycle to Paris with. All 12 of us set off for Newhaven and were on the ferry to Dieppe by 10. We arrived in Dieppe and spent the first day cycling on a beautiful old railway line down to Bray, now a cycling path. The weather was good and we were feeling confident, until the clouds went grey and a rainstorm began. We continued to cycle and I remember losing all feeling in my toes and fingers. After another hour cycling in the rain we found shelter under a railway bridge and ate some glucose packs to re-energize. After a short break we continued to our first stop, where we slept for the night.

I woke up after only managing to sleep for a couple of hours, mainly due to nerves. After a café au lait and crossiant we set off, weary eyed for day 2. We cycled through the beautiful rural countryside of Northern France, with lots of hills farms and forests. The weather held up well besides an hour or twos rain, but was nowhere near as bad as the first day. We treated ourselves to a lovely hotel with a pool and had a swim after my legs began cramping up. We had dinner and went to sleep, ready for another big day of cycling.



  DAY 3

Didn’t sleep again last night, managed to nod off for about 3 hours. Normally good at sleeping so struggling with over tiredness. But ready for the last day of cycling! 55 miles to Paris. On this day we encountered the hardest hills of the entire trip, with one hill taking about an hour of solid cycling to make it to the top. We were absolutely exhausted but spirits were not dampened, and when we reached the edge of Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time it felt incredible. What an amazing sight. We arrived in Paris that evening.

Throughout the whole trip I only managed to suffer 2 bike punctures, and survived one of the heaviest rainstorms I’ve ever witnessed.

Words by Emilia Gill – JAGS Researcher

I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated, there is one day left of fundraising before my page closes!  

You can donate  on Justgiving here

Yeh we did it!!!

International Womens Day Fundraiser

Today we attended the ASKI (Advice, Support, Knowledge, Information)’s International Women’s Day Fundraiser in Thornton Heath. The fundraiser focused on the empowerment and emancipation of women throughout history to now, as well as acknowledging all the women present. The morning combined music, poetry, spoken word, and guest speeches from the Mayor of Croydon and our very own Tracey Ford.


Thank you so much to Joseph and the rest of the team for having us, it was a lovely day.

See below for pictures:

Words by Emilia Gill – JAGS Researcher

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