Boxing coach Mark Reynolds is spearheading a new drive against knife crime.

Mark, who runs Rawthorpe Boxing Club in Milnsbridge, is helping lead an initiative called Knife Crime Matters in the North of England. 

The organisation Down Tools, run by Andrew Brown, set up Knife Crime Matters in 2020. Down Tools wants to combat the impact of knife crime on communities and families by raising awareness and offering practical solutions.

Having opened his Rawthorpe club 20 years ago, Mark and his dedicated team of volunteers have steered thousands of young people away from crime.

On his new role Mark said: “Andrew Brown contacted me after seeing I’d done some knife crime initiatives in 2019. We did a six-week holiday summer camp on knife crime.

“The reason I did this was because the Prime Minister at the time, Theresa May, was having all these meetings and they thought there might be some riots.

“She said if that happens now with the knives, guns and criminals that are out there it could be some of the worst things we’ve seen. The country had been through a lot over the last five years and there was a lot of unrest.

Rawthorpe boxing club helping young people stay out of crime.

“The Government got some funding and talked to England Boxing. They found that boxing gyms had good relationships with their communities. Only six gyms in the country got the funding to help tackle knife crime, us being one of those gyms, and that made us extremely proud. 

“So bringing it back to today, Andrew who created Knife Crime Matters, got in contact with me. I found what he wanted to do really interesting, it wasn’t just about talking about knife crime with kids, it was proactively teaching them about it through lessons and programmes.

“A lot of the time some of the kids don’t listen to their parents, teachers or police but they will listen to me. Yes, it’s important what you tell them but it’s how you educate them about knife crime. 

“It’s not just schools we want to target it’s football teams, youth clubs, community hubs. We have e-books and lesson plans, it’s all electronic and targeted at young people.” 

Mark has seen the deterioration of local communities over time and is saddened by how many young people get dragged into crime. 

Statistically, seven out of 10 people who carry a knife will get that knife used against them.

Latest figures also revealed that across Yorkshire and the Humber, there were 4,597 serious offences involving a knife in the 12 months to December 2018. There were also 21 homicides and 34 attempted murders all involving knives. Across Yorkshire the number of offences involving a knife rose 94% compared to figures from 2011.

Mark said: “The world at the moment is not in a nice place and obviously part of that is the way in which young people’s lives have changed because of the pandemic.

“Kids over the last year or two have spent more time at home. They have sat and played shooting games and not had that social interaction that young people need. We can’t blame everything on Covid-19 but that is a big thing to have happened. 

“Crime is worse in terms of the danger our young people are in, the county lines drugs, knives, gangs etc, it’s horrendous. There aren’t enough police on the streets and the whole system of social care is broken.

“It’s scary how many young people get dragged down the wrong road so quickly. That is why alongside all my other work and running the club I’m passionate about this cause.”

Mark hopes to encourage local businesses to get on board and sponsor the programmes and lesson plans that Knife Crime Matters wants to deliver.

He said: “One of things we are finding difficult is the funding element. Yes, there is funding out there but it’s difficult to get hold of. What we want to do is encourage businesses to get on board and sponsor what we are doing. What I’d say is: ‘What price is on a life?’ 

“Their help and support financially means we can deliver more lessons and programmes to more kids in the North of England which in turn stops them going down a road of crime.” 

If you want to get involved with Knife Crime Matters visit their website HERE or call Mark on 07747 846977.