Art Against Knives, a London-based charity that aims to end youth violence through creativity, is marking its 10th birthday by launching an urgent crowdfunder to keep its creative youth space open.
The charity provides a safe space in North London for over 400 underserved young people to explore their creative potential free from violence. From this space, Art Against Knives runs their youth-led programmes, including a music studio, nail & hair bar and podcast studio. However, this vital safe space for young creatives is at risk of closing, and is asking for your help to keep its doors open.
A decade of austerity has led to local councils being chronically under-funded and unable to support youth programmes adequately, a problem that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. 750 youth centres have closed since 2011, and youth funding has been cut by 70 per cent over the past ten years. In this climate, Art Against Knives works to ensure the creative needs of disadvantaged young people are met.
A spokesperson for the charity told Dazed: “Our unique model brings essential, specialist support to the borough’s most marginalised young people via creative activity. They can access mental health support at the same time as producing a track or sexual health support whilst having their nails done. This is provided by an extraordinary staff team made up of creative professionals, award-winning youth professionals and young people who have progressed through programmes into paid roles.”
The charity was founded as a direct response to the 2008 stabbing of Oliver Hemsley, a 21-year-old Central Saint Martins student who was left in a wheelchair as a result of the unprovoked attack. Oliver’s friend Katy Dawe registered Art Against Knives as a charity in 2011 and started running creative community projects with young people.
“The staff here are like family to me,” said Elise, who has been helped by the charity. “They’ve taught me a lot about life. Without them I wouldn’t have ever considered going to university. I think there’s a really big stigma attached to young people coming from council estates; that you’re not very successful, that there’s not much you can do. But I want to help young people see what I’ve done and inspire them to do the same.”
Art Against Knives needs to raise £145,000 to keep the youth space open for five days a week during 2022. If you are in a position to donate, follow this link to the crowdfunding page, and if you are not, share to friends and family who might be able to help.