A WEAPONS awareness charity has spoken to more than 500 youngsters in just one month about their experiences of knife crime as part of a special project.
Only Cowards Carry, which was set up by Caroline Shearer following the murder of her son JayWhiston in 2012, launched the initiative in Clacton town centre alongside Tendring Community Safety Partnership this summer.
The Link Up Monday events saw hundreds of 13 to 17-year-olds talk openly about issues including weapons, gangs, drugs, booze and bullying, as well as how to get advice and support.
Teens are also encouraged to complete a questionnaire on their personal experiences in a bid to shape the charity’s education programmes in secondary schools throughout the county.
Charity spokesman Natasha Potter said: “Link Up Mondays have run every Monday in the town centre over the school holidays and it’s proved to be very popular.
“We’ve received nearly 500 completed questionnaires, which will be a great help to us.
“All the young people we’ve spoken to have really engagedwith us on their awareness of knife crime – it’s great that they are willing to talk about these issues with us openly.
“Due to the success of Link Up Mondays, we’re looking to run this in other areas in Tendring, as well as other districts in Essex.” Miss Potter said the charity also hopes to run the initiative in the evenings and during school holidays throughout the year.
Tendring police commander Chief Insp Russ Cole said: “We are proud to work with Only Cowards Carry in their tireless work on educating young people on how weapons and other issues, such as gangs, have destructive, life-changing consequences.
“Link Up Mondays have been a fantastic addition to the town centre over the holidays, and I hope such important engagement work will continue across the district and across Essex.”