A popular London-based fried chicken chain has collaborated with the Home Office to combat the growing problem of knife crime.
Morley’s have replaced their signature red food boxes with black boxes that have #KnifeFree written on the lids - with real life stories from former knife carriers about how they turned their lives around published inside.
Morley’s says 20,000 of the special chicken and burger boxes have been printed and distributed in 35 of their branches.
The move comes after 15-year-old Jay Hughes was fatally stabbed outside a Morley’s branch in Bellingham, south London.
Speaking to ID magazine, Shan Selvendran, Managing Director of Morley’s, said this tragedy inspired him to take action.
“I grew up in Bellingham; I live near there now, so it really hit home for me personally,” he said.
“From a positioning point of view, a lot of young people go to Morley’s. We know we are a pillar of the community in south London. We have a voice. And every business has to look at who their customer is: ours are mainly youngsters.
“So I felt we had a social responsibility to do something. The feedback from our social channels has been really positive, so we’re looking to get the boxes rolled out across more stores [...].”
The programme, which also sees multimedia screens in fast-food outlets showing testimonies from young people who have avoided becoming involved in knife crime, is being funded by the Home Office, whose #knifefree campaign is aimed at bringing change through filtering positive advertising in places that young people frequent.
It has also produced posters and stickers for local businesses supporting the initiative.
A new pilot programme training youth advocates – respected people in the community like sports coaches and youth workers – has also been launched to spread the #knifefree messages.
Advocates will be trained to discuss the consequences of carrying a knife and can signpost them toward positive alternatives.
NHS figures show that admissions for all knife injuries have increased by almost a third since 2012 – from 3,888 to 5,052 last year - with stabbings involving victims aged between 10-19 increasing by 60%.
Children may be most at risk of being stabbed as they make their way home from school, according to research published earlier this year, and fast food outlets like Morley’s remain popular locations for teenagers to hang out in the evening.