Victims’ families help spread knife danger message to pupils

South Shields Community School pupil Charlotte Collinson receives her award from, left to right, Gemma Maughan, Pat McDougall, associate headteacher Hojab Zaheer, and Sgt Steve Prested.
South Shields Community School pupil Charlotte Collinson receives her award from, left to right, Gemma Maughan, Pat McDougall, associate headteacher Hojab Zaheer, and Sgt Steve Prested.

Two families who saw their lives ripped apart by knife crime are reaching out to young people to spread the message ‘Knives Ruin Lives.’

Pat McDougall’s grandson Glen Corner was stabbed to death on his 16th birthday in August 2006 while Gemma Maughan’s brother David Charlton, 25, was killed in 2012,

Under the Glen Corner Trust banner, they joined police and the youth offending service to take part in a pilot project, at South Shields Community School, to raise awareness on the dangers of knives.

Police say South Tyneside is an area which does not have an issue with knife crime but they are keen to keep it that way through preventative projects.

It is hoped the project - where pupils take on the role of reporters and take part in a press conference - will be rolled out to other schools in the future.

At South Shields Community School, a prize for the best article was presented to Charlotte Collinson.

Their input has made the devastation that can be caused by knives more real to the pupils, who were very receptive to what was being spoken about.

Sergeant Steve Prested

The 13-year-old said: “The way you had to listen and write things down made it more interesting. It helped us to connect more and we felt more involved.”

Pat said: “It was a good way of engaging with young people and getting across the message of the dangers of carrying knives.

“Glen’s death had a huge impact on us all and we still live everyday with the pain of losing Glen. Doing something positive in his memory does bring some comfort. If we can prevent someone else from losing their life through knife crime it can only be a good thing.”

Gemma said: “What happened to David devastated us as a family. It has been a very emotional project to be involved in but also very rewarding.

“You could tell by the questions being asked that what we were saying was sinking in and they were thinking about what was being said.

“If one young person takes the message away and uses it in future decisions in order to make more positive life choices, it’s worth it.”

Sergeant Steve Prested said: “The families have been very brave and very honest in how knife crime has impacted on themselves and their families.

“Their input has made the devastation that can be caused by knives more real to the pupils, who were very receptive to what was being spoken about.

“Knife crime is not an issue within South Tyneside, however, projects like these can only help to ensure this continues to be the case in the future.”

Head of Year Nine Kim Symington said: “This initiative has had an everlasting effect on our students and has empowered them to understand the devastating affects knife crime can have on family and friends.”