West Yorkshire youth making music the weapon against serious violent crime
3rd August 2021
An innovative project funded by the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is helping to turn young people’s lives around through ‘sound and vision’.
Safety in Music (#SIM) have helped local teens in Leeds and Kirklees to professionally record two music videos, as part of a gang violence prevention programme, engaging those at risk of being exposed to negative influence.
Called ‘Let the Gun Drop’ and ‘Music is the Key’, each are designed to raise awareness of the consequences of becoming involved in criminal activity and to divert the most vulnerable from taking the wrong path.
Nineteen-year-old Ebony, a teenager in care, was among those attending the sessions, and has found it has already had a profound impact on her own future.
After developing her knowledge and experience through SIM, she applied to Leeds Beckett University to enrol in a Music Production degree. She has since been offered a conditional place and is now looking towards a career in the business. Ebony said:
“I’m hoping I can be a role model to encourage other people to attend Safety in Music. It’s changed my life in many ways.
“It’s also helped me to be more focused. I don’t need to mess around with people who are getting into crime.”
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire said:
“Tackling the scourge of serious violent crime is an absolute priority of mine and the work of Safety in Music also chimes with my pledge of increasing safety for women and girls.”
“It is fantastic to see the young people in our communities being given the opportunity to express themselves on these crucially important matters and to simultaneously make a difference to their peers.
“I cannot believe the quality of the content they have produced, which really demonstrates the enormous amount of skill and ability, which our young people clearly possess.
“It is down to projects like this, which allow us to unlock that potential and offer our youth the positive futures they deserve, and I’m behind them all the way.”
Safeguarding practitioner Soriya and co-founder of Safety in Music said:
“Our primary focus has been on media and social media platforms where violent music videos are regularly shared. Violent music videos can often contribute to turf wars or point scoring boards and the taunting of aggrieved families. The young people were supported to critically evaluate such content and develop counter narrative music and lyrics”
Raymond Douglas, who is well known for launching the development programme ‘Gangology’ also contributed. Soriya goes on to say:
“This promoted cohesive, peaceful and unified messages, which the young people were able to translate into the development of the two fantastic music videos.”
International DJ/Producer Mark EG, who is a co-founder of the Safety in Music project said:
“Every young person in our workshops contributed. They have learnt how to make a positive life out of music. I believe creativity is as important in education as literacy. I am particularly proud of Ebony, a child in care who we recognised as musically gifted.”