From education to employment

Youth club founder secures backing from his former college #KnifeFree

A Coventry teenager who launched a youth club to help reverse rising levels of knife and gun crime has received major backing from his former college to help his project grow.

Tyler Campbell, a former media student at Coventry College, launched a weekly event last month called FRIDAYS to provide a place for 15 to 17-year-olds to have an enjoyable evening in a safe environment.

The youth club is based at the Coventry Caribbean Centre on Spon Street and is open from 7pm until 10.30pm every Friday where teenagers can relax with their friends and listen to live music artists as well as receive mentoring around building confidence and identifying potential career opportunities.

Campbell’s creation is born amid a turbulent backdrop, which according to the Office for National Statistics, saw a 20 per cent rise involving knives or sharp instruments in the West Midlands in the year to March 2019.

The club’s attendances have been increasing every week since the launch night in July – with more than 80 teenagers attending in the first month – and now Coventry College has invited Campbell to spread the word to more than 7,000 of their students across the city.

The 18-year-old will be going into Coventry College’s Swanswell Street campus on Thursday, September 26 and their Henley Road campus on Friday, September 27 to give talks to students about FRIDAYS as they begin the academic year.

Campbell will also be distributing membership cards throughout the campuses on both dates to enable the students to gain access to the club, which is a membership only club that also requires parental consent.

“I want the Coventry version of FRIDAYS to act as a blueprint that can be replicated in other cities, and the response I’ve had since setting the club up in July has been fantastic,” he said.

“Hearing about various shootings and stabbings in the area made me want to try and make a positive change.

“There are so many teenagers across the city and wider region who just need some guidance to avoid them slipping into trouble.

“We rely on a £5 annual membership fee to help with costs, so I’m really grateful to Coventry College for giving me the platform to promote FRIDAYS to thousands of students.

“The benefits of attending a youth club such as FRIDAYS are endless – there is currently nothing else like it out there at the minute, and it provides a great blend of being able to chill out with your mates in a secure space, while getting the chance to meet new people, and receive advice whether it is about building confidence or seeking guidance on pursuing a particular career path.

“Having been at Coventry College myself, I know that the college attracts teenagers from all pockets of the city and I believe FRIDAYS’ exposure across both campuses will help to increase the weekly numbers over the coming weeks and months.”

Gemma Knott, Assistant Principal for Business Growth at Coventry College, added: “Tyler only finished studying at Coventry College last year and to see what he has achieved already is fantastic.

“He’s shown great determination at turning his idea into a reality, and we’re really looking forward to having him in to speak to our students about FRIDAYS.

“A lot of our students fall into Tyler’s target audience so not only will he resonate with them, but hopefully it will inspire all of our other students to go on and pursue ideas of their own.”

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