My eyes welled up when my friend Cee Cee O’Neal finally shared with what he experienced in October 2018. As well as a fashion stylist, he also hosts fashion workshops for teenagers aspiring to be in the industry. He retells the story of him witnessing one of the boys at the youth center who he was talking to that instant being chased into the building and viscously attacked by 3 masked assailants. The 17 year old was knifed 20 times all over his body by boys of a similar age or younger. Whilst trying to apply pressure to his wounds with another staff member with blood puddling around them, he asks Cee Cee to call his mum on his behalf before falling unconscious and at this point, all assumed he was dead.
Luckily, he survived and is still in full recovery as well as Cee Cee. Usually the liveliest person in the room, went into a deep state of depression during which the concept of Love Life Fashion Charity Gala was borne. Traumatised by what he witnessed, he wanted to raise awareness of the issue and raise money to help London youth aspire to a more fulfilling way of life through more opportunities and mentors who can help to inspire the next generation to reach their full potentials.
The issue of knife crime has become a huge political buzzword recently with more and more influential people becoming more vocal on the issue as incidents continue to rise in the city. Almost 40,000 offences have been committed in the UK in the 12 months ending in September 2018- the highest record number from the past 8 years. A report from the Metropolitan police has concluded that a possible answer to solve the issue is to hand out longer and tougher sentences as well as more thorough stop and search operations. Author and MOBO winner, Akala successfully explains why he disagrees with this decision during his most recent appearance on Good Morning Britain with Piers Morgan. Being a victim of stop and search (as the majority of BAME men in the UK) since the age of 12 due to his appearance, he is perplexed as to why there are different approaches to the matter depending on the perpetrator’s race. He shares the outcome of research conducted by a good friend of his “a good friend of mine did a study all around the world where she looked at prison systems and incarceration. She found not one country that found that tougher sentences did anything to reduce crime.”
He goes on to explain that knife crime and gang violence is nothing new and has been an issue for the past few centuries – predominantly within white communities in Britain. “At the turn of the 20th century in Manchester, it was the intervention by church groups, intervention by community groups, it was immediate approaches essentially. In Glasgow, the same thing has occurred in the past few years yet, we are suggesting the exact opposite policies (now) that have been affective in British history in white communities…”.
The aim of Love Life Fashion Charity Gala is to build a network of people who are passionate about helping the next generation excel and to prevent them resulting to crime and being targeted. 100% of proceeds will be donated to Love Life Generation Charity and The Newham Youth Service as well as providing internships within an array of industries to show that the opportunities are endless. Being supported by The Mayor of Newham – Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, Love Life Gala will take place at The Old Town Hall Stratford on Saturday 11th May with an array of surprise guest performers and attendees.