Young friends of knife crime victim campaign for better lit streets in Gateshead

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The young friends, alongside youth workers from Youth Focus North East, have set up a petition to increse street lighting around the area where their friend died.

Young people who lost their friend in a knife crime incident are fronting a campaign for safer streets in an area of Gateshead where the young man was killed.

Fourteen year old Tomasz Oleszak was killed in October 2022 at the Whitehills Nature Park, also known as ‘The Lines’ in Gateshead which currently has no street lighting in place.

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A petition, which has been started by the friends of Tomasz, will be sent to Gateshead Council to request street lighting in the area. Any written petition needs 2,000 signatures to be heard.

A petition has been set up to raise street lights in the area of the incident.A petition has been set up to raise street lights in the area of the incident.
A petition has been set up to raise street lights in the area of the incident.

The young people are being given support by Youth Focus North East to organise, with the organisation's Megan Stratton saying: “We’ve been working with them since October or November.

"We came in and we clearly saw there was need for youth provision in the area.

"It was completely youth-led. We sat with them and decided what they thought would be a good idea and how they envisioned knife crime could be reduced and they decided on a petition."

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A community garden has also been produced in memory of Tomasz while murals and street art have also been made in the area to remember the young man. Purple is prominent within the various memorials – an ode to Tomasz’s favourite colour.

Tomasz’s friend Corban said: “We’re just trying to reduce crime really. You could save someone’s life. We need to make it light for everyone’s safety.

"It just needs done, it’s better for everyone.”

Another friend, Frankie, added: “Loads of people have been walking through the lines in the dark or pitch black and don’t know what might be in front of them or behind them.”

The petition can be signed online, the description reads: “The young people of Springwell would like the council to work on providing street lights in an area of Springwell Estate called 'The Lines'. They have identified that this is a walkway used by the whole community which is unfortunately very dark and therefore dangerous at night.

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“Having street lights would decrease crime in the area and would help the whole community to feel safer when walking at night."

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