We're supporting the #NoMoreKnives campaign by dedicating our fixture at the weekend to raise awareness of this important issue.
Oldham Athletic Football Club and Oldham Athletic Community Trust (OACT) this week are supporting the #NoMoreKnives initiative, being driven by students and staff from The Oldham Academy North School (TOAN).
Students, staff and key local stakeholders visited Boundary Park ahead of the home fixture at the weekend, as part of a series of events aimed at raising awareness of the ongoing knife issue currently gripping the country.
To kick-off the events, last week the school hosted a football tournament which saw more than one hundred boys and girls from the Greater Manchester area participate. The aim of this event was to highlight the issue of knives to school children from across the region and enable young people to integrate through football.
This week TOAN hosted their second event, by holding a full day of workshops to raise the awareness of knife crime. The day included year group presentations led by Greater Manchester Police, Oldham Local Authority and Paul McGovern MBE (national knife crime advisor) with representatives from the NHS also in attendance. Lessons across the school also had a knife crime awareness theme.
Rob McGinty, TOAN Deputy Headteacher, commented: "My younger brother Colin was fatally stabbed when he was just 21, in what police confirmed was a case of mistaken identity.
"To this day, the impact of my brother's death is something that my family and friends still struggle with. Sadly, since Colin’s death in 2001, the number of knife crime victims has continued to rise at an alarming rate.
"It seems like barely a day goes by without a headline, countless social media posts or a piece on the evening news about a tragic loss of young life due to knife crime. The coverage is relentless. Even at a good secondary academy like ours, where knife crime simply isn’t an issue, I worry about the impact that this continuous stream of reports is having on our young people.
"With so many incidences of knife crime reported in the news, there is a danger that young people will start to believe that carrying a knife is something that everyone around them does.
"It may seem simplistic, but if a young person believes that some of their peers are carrying knives, they could feel unsafe without one. We cannot allow carrying a knife to become normalised in this way, or for our children to grow up in a society where knife crime is an accepted part of life.
"As teachers, we’re not doing our jobs properly if we shy away from this issue our students are hearing about these crimes, so we need to be open with them and continue the conversation."
As part of the initiative, the Oldham Athletic v Swindon Town league fixture on Saturday 13 April will be a dedicated #NoMoreKnives fixture, with Oldham Athletic players supporting the message by warming up in special t-shirts and constant messaging throughout the afternoon.