Are more youth centres the answer to steer youngsters away from knife crime in Milton Keynes?
A group dedicated to steering youngsters away from knife crime has launched a fundraising drive to build more youth centres in Milton Keynes.
They will be bases to get young people involved in disciplined sports such as boxing or even teach them useful trades such as plastering or decorating.
The organiser is Karl Hanif, a Neath Hill dad-of-four who runs Keep Kids Off the Streets (KKOTS).
The non-profit community organisation currently offers free boxing coaching sessions for youngsters aged seven to 18 at the Trinity Centre on Fishermead.
Volunteers coaches give expert tuition and Karl buys much of the equipment himself.
He also runs free football sessions at Willen Lake Astroturf on Saturdays.
“We would like to find venues all over MK so that boxing, activity and fitness sessions can be offered in every area. We'd also like to move into skills and trade based programmes,” said Karl.
He is convinced that teaching children discipline early on is the key to ensuring trouble-free teenage years.
The message he wants to convey is 'put down the knives and pick up the gloves'.
“I know it works. If you can get a child when they are young enough and teach them discipline and respect then you can prevent them getting into trouble when they become a teenager.
“We need to show children in Milton Keynes there is light at the end of the tunnel and there is a future for them. They do not need to be drug dealers or rob people or join a gang and carry knives.”
You can donate to KKOTS's cause here.