Tom Hodge

I'm 22 and was born and raised in West London. I went to secondary school and college in Acton and enjoyed these years as over time I got to know lots of people from different areas and schools to mine. I'm a big sport fan ( mainly football - Liverpool), love music, and try to travel as much as possible. 

 

I studied History at the University of Bristol and graduated in 2019. After I finished I, like most people, had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. I worked for a while at different bars across London, but quickly grew tired of continually doing the same things in jobs that I felt had no purpose.

 

2019 was also significant for me because knife crime became a widely discussed topic nationally after it reached its highest level in recent history, after rising consistently for a number of years. I had been living in Bristol for the majority of 3 years so, when I started living at home again, I began to take more notice of news relating to knife crime, especially cases in London. Over that summer I became increasingly frustrated at how common it was becoming, how many areas were being affected, and how poor I thought the government's response was. Knife crime had been a persistent issue in London for decades, and I could not understand why the existing methods and strategies to deal with it, that were shown to have limited effects, were seemingly not being developed or adapted to deal with the issue in its 2019 form.

 

This led me to start researching organisations that were actively trying to reduce knife crime in London. I came across Lives Not Knives online and liked the idea of trying to mentor (rather than cast off) and support (rather than alienate) those who were deemed to be 'at risk' of being involved in knife crime. One day I randomly decided to call the LNK office to ask if I could volunteer to support the team with writing or anything else that suited my skill set. Eliza called me in for a meeting, and since then I have moved from working part-time to taking on a full-time position at a charity who's cause and strategy I feel passionately about.

 

Whilst working for Lives Not Knives I have: delivered our Teacher Resource Pack to teachers, helped to compile Annual Reports, assisted in our Roadshows, and helped in the setting up of a podcast series and documentary covering the issue of knife crime and the work that we do. I have also undertaken training on safeguarding, mentoring, and project management, and I am keen to learn as much as possible in my time here. 

 

Mentoring to me reiterates the most significant point relating to knife crime: that all of us have our own talents and potential to do good, and that if you provide young people with the right guidance and opportunities from an early stage, it is possible to help them overcome adversities and realise this potential themselves. This approach can prevent young people from participating in crime or ever deciding to carry or use a knife, as opposed to trying to cure the problem after it is already too late. I think that using the charisma and relevant life experience of our mentors is crucial to articulating this message in a way that young people engage with and understand, so they can truly appreciate their worth and learn that it is never too late to turn your life around.

In my time at LNK I hope to help the charity diversify its programmes and expand at the rate it is already doing so that we can reach and support even more young people in the city I call home. Eventually, I hope to have our strategy incorporated into a national agenda that can be used to address the current knife crime epidemic, and to over time see significant reductions in the amount of stabbings taking place in London, and across the UK.

 

If you have any questions or would like to get in contact, please email me on: tom@livesnotknives.org