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Dan (not his real name)

Was arrested for possession of cannabis and of an offensive weapon and was given a Referral Order. As part of the work he did with West Mercia Youth Justice Service, and in conjunction with the Knife Angel in Herefordshire he wrote this article about his life, experiences, views on why some young people may carry knives, and hopes that things can change. 

Day to day life in Manchester isn’t how they describe it on the news it’s not how people say it is when them themselves have never experienced it, they are reading of a script to try and educate people on things they don’t know. 

The things I’ve seen and experienced are things nobody should ever have to see in their lives, and what I saw was light in comparison to what others have seen.

I still mentally suffer from my experiences. The first experience of witnessing someone being killed was aged 14 in high school… 14 years old watching a mate bleed out and you can’t do anything. The reason he was killed was because he wore pink shoes. Something so minor.

In 17 years of living in Manchester I’ve seen 9 people I personally know and hundreds more I’ve been told of get killed, from being stabbed with a 1 inch blade and being decapitated in one swing with a machete. And what I’m hearing it isn’t stopping.

In the morning having to worry what I wear and if someone doesn’t like it. And worrying about what route to take to school and the local shops. If you do not think of this beforehand, you will be killed.

I’ve lived in West Mercia for 5 months now and I still think I have to be careful around every corner and watch my back. Walking past people my age still triggers something in my head thinking everyone’s carrying knives even though I know West Mercia isn’t like that.

I really annoys me that kids want to get into that life and see those things for status when first hand I’ve experienced the lifestyle and it isn’t all that it seems. 

Kids listen to music such as fob and Russ and thinking it’s all fun, games and making money when really it’s making short term money and signing your own death sentence. 

Spending a day in college learning to work in public services to walk out the front doors and see someone who I called a friend get rushed and be publicly murdered without a second thought and see no news coverage of this just goes to show how its shown so differently. 

And people wonder why people my age and younger carry blades to make themselves feel safe. We don’t choose to carry knifes, it’s how we survive. We don’t live life to live. We live to survive.

I want to help my generation because we feel like we are “the lost generation”.

More needs to be done. 

I understand the youth carrying knives and caring ‘offensive weapons’ is wrong but the older generation who have influences and scared the kids needs to be dealt with accordingly.

Because a 13 year old boy from a council estate in Greater Manchester wouldn’t wake me up one day thinking I need to carry a knife. 

Its kill or be killed and that’s the sad reality of things and how they’ve got. The justice system thinks throwing thousands of teens into prison is going to solve this problem. When in reality is just as bad if not worse. More alliances and enemies are made. The police can’t rely on kids to speak to the authorities about this problem because then you’re labelled as a snitch. Something needs to change’.

Dan has recently turned 18 years old, has successfully completed his Referral Order and is working full time.

None of the views expressed in this article are those of the West Mercia Youth Justice Service, and the incidents reported have not been corroborated.