I sat down with Eliza Rebeiro the founder and CEO of the charity Lives Not Knives (LNK - @LNKCharity) on the day of the elections for the Mayor of London earlier this year. It was a deep conversation and really thought-provoking.
She knows all too well the impact of knife crime after a friend was stabbed to death as a teenager, and she now has a team that works with schools across Croydon to try and address the root causes of knife crime and serious youth violence by providing activities and support from a local hub on the first floor of Centrale Shopping Centre in Croydon.
We touched on what it was like for her getting kicked out of school at the age of 14 before going on to start the anti-knife crime charity with her Mum to support young people.
Eliza is a refreshing, confident woman who has not only won awards for her brilliant work, but has also been invited to speak with MPs and councillors. She described herself as a "kid who was fed promises with no results" and although she says she wouldn't try her hand at politics, she gave some refreshing suggestions for how she would do things differently if she was running the country.
The pandemic has taken its toll on the services LNK provides, her staff and also young people they work with. Some young people saw much more than they normally would over lockdown including domestic violence, drink and drugs or arguments at home. Instances of children as young as 10 years old feeling suicidal or others not being fed three times a day were not uncommon.
We also discussed school exclusions and the link to prison and reoffending rates with some really positive advice for any children facing exclusion from school or who have already been kicked out.
Eliza Rebeiro: "How can you get a work ethic if you never start working?"
You can support Lives Not Knives at @LNKCharity or find them online at livesnotknives.org