• Maria Miller talking to one of the workshop participants
  • Maria Millier, Cat Cooke (Senior Cultural Engagement Coordinator, HCT); James Bowman, serious violence team mentor for the Youth Commission
  • Workshop participant; Jon Retallick, artist
  • James Bowman, serious violence team mentor for the Youth Commission
  • Artwork from the workshop which will form part of the final sculpture
  • Artwork in action at the workshop
  • Enzo Riglia, Assistant PCC

An innovative arts intervention project aimed at tackling knife crime in Basingstoke has been visited by the town’s MP, the Rt Hon Maria Miller.

The Basingstoke Peace project is a partnership between the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Commission and arts charity Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT), who have come together to tackle youth knife crime through artwork promoting peace and hope.

Within Hampshire, Basingstoke is an area facing a high level of knife crime and the Youth Commission has been working closely with the Violence Reduction Unit to identify the drivers of violence and interventions that could help prevent young people taking a path that leads to it.

The Basingstoke Peace project aims to raise awareness of the consequences of knife crime and promote positive activities for young people. HCT has developed a series of positive, creative sessions aimed at giving young people a safe space for discussion, opportunities to learn new skills and value both their voice and contribution to the final, tangible outcome of the project, a sculpture.

Mrs Miller visited a workshop session led by project artist Jono Retallick at Milestones Museum. Retallick has been working with young people involved in the project to design a piece of art that incorporates their personal reflections on knife crime and represents peace. The individual artworks and further group artworks will create a sculpture that will tour various locations, creating a discussion piece for positive focus with young people.

Maria Commented “It was great to visit the project and see first-hand how it is helping young people deal with difficult and complex emotions. The project also provides education and materials which help to inform young people about the consequences of knife crime and serious violence. I really enjoyed talking to the young people involved in the project and taking part in the workshop session.”

James Bowman, Youth Commission member commented, “Members of the youth commission chose serious violence as one of the topics to tackle this year and want to raise awareness with their peers on the issues involved. This sculpture aims to bring the community together by involving young people in a project that enables them to explore their strengths and gives the message ‘use your words not a weapon’ and shows the community that they are against knife crime”.

The Basingstoke Peace project seeks to:

  • Use art to create a talking point
  • Provide young people taking part with Youth Commission education resources and materials to educate and inform them about the consequences of knife crime and serious violence.
  • Inform young people about activities/options available to them such as programmes by the YMCA and Princes Trust, youth organisations and college courses
  •  Show the community that young people are against violence
  • Enable young people to participate in the Youth Commissions Big Conversation and give their views and solutions to tackling serious violence