Knife crime has soared by a staggering 90% in Milton Keynes, says young people's charity
Children as young as 13 are being 'groomed' by at least 10 local postcode gangs
A national charity has revealed some shocking statistics about knife crime in Milton Keynes.
The 5 On It Foundation is laying on free basketball coaching in Milton Keynes in a bid to deter youngsters from joining one of the city's numerous postcode gangs.
The charity says least 10 'postcode' gangs - made up of members from the same postcode area, or 'territory' - currently operate in Milton Keynes.
Children as young as 13 are being groomed into carrying knives and ferrying around drugs, often on pedal bikes, to sell to addicts.
In just two years alone, knife crime in the town has soared by a staggering 90 per cent - a higher rise than in Lawless London - with five fatal stabbings in the year before lockdown, say 5 On It Foundation experts.
Now the charity has been granted funding from the National Lottery and Turners Court to run a free basketball coaching programme at the Eaglestone outdoor basketball court - aimed specifically aimed at encouraging young people to stay away from gangs.
The coaching, which starts this Thursday, is headed up by London Lions Legends Nigel Lloyd and Jordan Spencer. Called ‘Gang Today, Gone Tomorrow’, it uses basketball to create opportunities for young people.
From beginners to experienced ballers, all levels are welcome.
Research has shown numerous benefits to exposing youth to positive role models and nurturing prosocial relationships whilst teaching life skills through team sports.
It has been proven that this can lead to meaningful reappraisals among vulnerable youth, says the foundation.
The basketball programme is part of a multi-approach toolkit addressing youth gang involvement and violence. Each programme is designed to convey a range of positive health and lifestyle messages to educate young people within the local community and help them build a better future.
Budding ballers aged 13 to 18 years are invited to join Nigel and Jordan for four weeks of basketball coaching,
prizes, 3 on 3 and lots of fun.
The sessions run every Thursday from 4pm to 7pm until 26th August. Between 4pm - 5pm it is the turn of 13 to 15 year old boys, while 16 to 19 year old boys can attend between 5pm and 6pm. Between 6pm and 7pm the sessions is devoted to 13 to19 year old girls.
Jordan Spencer, the six-foot two-inch point guard, is a product of the London Lions’ development system right from its days in Milton Keynes. The Lions pathway took him to the University of Augustana in the USA where he won the Division 2 NCAA National Title and was voted All Conference First Team in 2017 and 2018, whilst leading the Conference in assists.
His professional playing career has taken him to Germany and he currently is back playing
with the Lions and is training hard for next season where they play in the British Basketball League and the Basketball Champions League in Europe.
He is looking forward to heading up the Gang Today, Gone Tomorrow programme and said: “I grew up in Milton Keynes and playing basketball with the MK Lions as a teen, really set me up on the right path.
"Basketball has brought me lots of opportunities and allowed me to study in the States and travel the world. I’m
really excited to give back to the community and work on a programme that gives young people opportunities, offers diversion and safety and is free so anyone can attend no matter of their financial situation. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see the talent in MK.”
Places are limited and spots have to be booked to play. For further information and to book, visit http://5onit.co.uk/free-summer-basketball/.