On 25 September 2005 my family and I received the news every family dreads. My 17-year-old brother had been beaten to death on a night out with friends. As my parents so poignantly pointed out during the trial we had gone from arranging Lloyd's 18th birthday to arranging a funeral. Lloyd lost his life through the actions of others and the only reason for his untimely death was that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite seeing similar stories on nearly a daily basis in the media it is something you never think could ever happen to your own family.
I decided that it was time to do something about this. Time to stand up, turn the most negative of events in to a positive and lasting legacy, and do something to stop Lloyd's story repeating itself claiming more young lives and devastating other families.
Over the last eight years I have been developing an organisation that aims to prevent violence through education and primary prevention. I started the charity Stand Against Violence when I was 19. The understanding of how young people learn in secondary school years was relatively fresh in my mind and so I used this to develop a film resource that I knew would have a powerful and positive impact on other young people.
The success of this film and the workshops I developed have continued to achieve positive results. We continue to run workshops in all secondary schools across the South West and offer all new schools an hour free workshop. We are confident in our achievements and results.
Through my journey so far I realised how much of a problem violence is globally with over 200,000 young people losing their lives worldwide to violence, and only 1/5 being the result of armed conflict (World Health Organisation, 2000). In England and Wales alone there are 2.5 million incidents of violence each year (Department of Health, 2010) and for each incident a further 10-20 people are estimated to be affected (McVeigh et al, 2005).
The number of us that experience violence in our life time is staggering and concerning which is why it is more important than ever that we do something to change the future of our society.
Over the last two years I have been fortunate enough to work with O2 Think Big. This programme funds young people developing community projects and provides support to help projects succeed. The most helpful element of this programme was the support and contacts that I was able to develop. .
The next stage for the charity is to secure sustainability for years to come. We have an approach that works effectively and it is crucial that we stand the test of time and continue to get our message out to future generations. It is really difficult to secure funding, but I pitched for support from O2 Think Big and UnLtd, and I have been awarded £8,000 to develop the charity and given the chance to secure the future survival of Stand Against Violence.
The funding will provide us with training in a variety of new areas from anger management and conflict resolution to personal safety and basic life support. This additional training will enable us to improve the sessions we deliver to schools and also provide an opportunity to branch in to corporate delivery diversifying income streams. The funding will also enable us to continue to deliver free workshops and taster training days to secure further bookings and delivery.
Our ongoing training programme already existing in our organisation enable us to claim that we are a specialist organisation in interpersonal violence prevention for the South West. We hope to be able to utilise some of the funding to reinforce and increase that reputation through hosting a conference towards the end of 2014. I would like to see us moving away from the small scale community campaign image we have had for so long and start to be seen for what we are, a unique and specialist violence prevention charity for the South West.