It’s Your Life, You Choose!

ylyc_workshops-7

On Tuesday 8th March Year 7 students learnt of the harsh realities that come with choosing a life of crime. Throughout the day, students were rotated through a series of workshops where they heard about crimes from various perspectives. In attendance were Brent Magistrates who spoke about the volunteer work they do to keep the community safe; a paramedic and a nurse who spoke about the types of injuries they see as a result of knife crime and the life-changing impact these injuries can have on their victims; Police Officers including School’s Officers, a cyberbullying expert and a Trident Officer; a Custodial Manager from Wormwood Scrubs who described, in detail, what a typical day in prison looks like; and two ex-offenders from the Directions Project who spoke about their past, their time in prison, their regrets and how they’ve turned their lives around.

The programme was delivered by the Brent stem of the multi-agency anti-crime initiative – Your Life You Choose (YLYC).

Project Coordinator from YLYC, Alison Zilberkweit, said “We were thrilled to be invited back to Kingsbury High to present to Year 7, after a really positive day in 2015 we had high expectations. Once again the students were a pleasure to work with, they were attentive, engaged with the presenters and asked perceptive questions demonstrating they understood the consequences of crime and it’s wider impact not just for the offender but their family, friends and of course the victim and wider community.”

Student Feedback:
“Thank you so much for teaching me today. I didn’t really know any of this. I learnt a lot today.”
“It was a fun day and the message I took home was to take crime seriously.”
“It has had an impact on me – I will not hang around bad company.”
“I will make better and safer choices. I will choose safe friends and think twice before I do something.”
“Your Life You Choose has taught me not to get into bad things and get a good education.”
“I will try to make the best decision for myself and not follow the wrong path.”

Your Life You Choose

Directions Project UK

On Thursday 26th March 2015 an initiative called Your Life You Choose visited Kingsbury High School to deliver a programme to Year 7 students.

The multi-agency initiative is aimed at deterring young people from a life of crime by making them aware of the consequences; it draws on the knowledge, expertise and experiences of Magistrates, the Metropolitan Police Service, Victim Support, Her Majesty’s Prison Service and ex-offenders from Directions Project UK.

The 300 students met local Magistrates and were surprised to hear that they volunteer their time for free to protect our community; they met two Brent Police Officers who highlighted the seriousness of joint enterprise; they listened intently to ex-offenders who spoke in detail about life in prison, regrets and turning their lives around; they were repulsed to hear about used and reused prison wear and wall-less toilets from a Prison Manager at HMP Wormwood Scrubs; and they listened to representatives from Victim Support who offered advice and guidance about what to do if they ever find themselves in danger.

Michael Sherwood, Custodial Manager at HMP Wormwood Scrubs said “Projects like these are invaluable in informing our young people of the consequences of coming to prison, the future problems of having a criminal record and the pain caused to both victim and their family when they commit a crime. We do not do enough as a society to teach our young people how to stay away from crime – everything they see is trivialised on TV or it makes great drama. Real life hurts more.

“I have been assisting with projects like this for several years now and when you see the light switch on in a young persons eyes when they finally understand the problems associated with committing crime, going to prison, and having a life afterwards is very rewarding. Having watched the Police, the Magistrates, the Prison Service, Victim Support and ex-offenders all explain what happens, how it happens and what to expect, students reactions are classic. I for one enjoy delivering my piece of the project and I hope that it keeps at least that one person from crime.

“Attending Kingsbury was a great joy – meeting students who, really wanted to know how things work, some really great questions, some of which I would have expected from an older class. I hope they got as much enjoyment out of the day as I did delivering the talks. – Hope to see you all on my next visit.”

Paul Murdoch, Founder & Director of Directions Project UK said “Myself and the team found it so great at your school. The students had lots of good questions and behaved exceptionally. We would like to thank all of them for being focussed and listening so intently to the message we had for them. They are all champions and will be a success – only themselves can stop them.”

The day culminated in an assembly where students heard from The Mayor of Brent, Councillor Kana Naheerathan, followed by a question and answer session where students asked the visitors challenging questions to which the answers were wholeheartedly honest.

Year Leader at Kingsbury High School, Helen Snow, said “The respect and understanding that was given by our visitors and all at Kingsbury High showed that this programme was a huge benefit to us all. Hopefully our students will keep this day with them for the rest of their days so that they can make positive choices in their future.”