Young people in Kirklees are proving that “love is the answer” when it comes to tackling serious violent crime across our communities.
With the support of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), the Safety in Music project (#SIM) has been working with 12-18 year olds across the district to create an innovative music production to help change behaviours and perceptions.
Entitled ‘L.O.V.E.’ by the Peace Tribe, the entire music production, including the lyrics and vocals has been developed by the young people, reflecting their experiences and feelings on the subject.
It forms part of a series of workshops funded by the VRU, helping to educate and inform young people around high profile themes such as gang culture, knife crime, drugs, hate crime and exploitation.
The team of music industry specialists also work with each participant to critically evaluate all forms of music, considering powerful counter narratives that expand their thinking.
Reflecting on the production, the young people involved said:
“It was really interesting to involve current society in a music project in a way that relates to younger people and teenagers, bringing awareness to all. I really like the creation and making of the track with other young people as it helped me connect with them and the music produced. It really built up my confidence in socializing with others my own age.”
“We saw how gangs themselves were stereotyped as a certain gender or race, but this is not the case. Everyone at any age can be involved. In the music we unpacked how gangs themselves can be biased and stereotypical, through racism, sexism, discrimination and more.”
“We hope to show people that there is a positive side to this kind of lifestyle, and it doesn’t have to end in crime. Be safe, try not to be persuaded to do anything illegal, tell someone who you’re involved with and if it’s unsafe, try to find a way to leave. The music we produce should hopefully entice young people to listen and think about the choices they are making.”
International DJ/Producer Mark EG, who is a co-founder of the ‘Safety in Music’ project said:
“By giving them hands-on industry skills, these young people now have the tools needed to help build a safe career in music. The five-week course took place in a professional recording studio and nightclub, with each young person contributing to the final track. We have uncovered talents that many of these young people may never have realised they had. It has been a powerful project.”
Safeguarding practitioner Soriya and co-founder of ‘Safety in Music’ added:
“We have worked collectively with young people, parents and carers to send out a unified cohesive message preventing young people from joining gangs, how to spot signs early and how to stay safe online and offline.”
“Our role is to educate, prevent and to support our youth in making good choices rather than being enticed into a dangerous gang lifestyle that can lead to tragic consequences.” She goes on to say, “These young people have worked extremely hard and gone over and above our expectations”.
Director of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), Chief Superintendent Jackie Marsh said:
“The standard of this music production is exceptional and is testament to the dedication and commitment of the young people involved, particularly in their efforts to confront the issues of serious violence.”
“They have clearly put their hearts into developing the content and I think it will really resonate with their peers across the Kirklees District and further afield. They have managed to use music as a tool to raise awareness of what is a critically important subject, sharing positive messages with those who are most at risk of harm.”
“It is also extremely pleasing to see that the VRU investment into Safety in Music is having such an impact, working to change behaviours and experiences on the ground. I know that the many diversionary activities they have delivered during their workshops are also positively impacting young people’s lives, with lasting effect.”