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My Life My Choice
Nathan’s story

Tackling gangs and gun crime | 200 young people’s views | “When pupils viewed the film for the first time, the impact was palpable” – PRU manager’s verdict

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My Life | My Choice was commissioned by West Midlands Police and the Safer Birmingham Partnership to consider young people’s views and experiences of weapons and gangs in Birmingham. It followed the success of one of lime’s London-based projects, which achieved a 26% increase in the number of young people who said they would not carry a knife under any circumstances.

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lime consulted with more than 200 Birmingham teenagers to gain deep insight into their perceptions and weapon-related experiences. A smaller group of young people went on to work with our professional film-maker to develop the script. The film was shot in Birmingham, featuring local actors and musicians, and has been used – along with accompanying lesson plans – by teachers, police officers and youth groups across the city.

Around 100 Birmingham teachers were trained to use the My Life | My Choice resource, 98% of whom rated the training as ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. The resource proved immediately effective in education settings. Jayne Welsh, manager of a local Pupil Referral Unit, said, “When pupils viewed the film for the first time, the impact was palpable. Lively discussions resulted, where pupils could safely discuss issues relating to weapon-carrying and conflict in their own lives, through the guise of the film characters and storyline.”

The lesson plans link with the National Curriculum, particularly the Key Stage 3 Citizenship crime and human rights modules, with a range of engaging activities that explore key decision points as the storyline in the film develops.

Ms Welsh told lime that for some students the resource has been life-changing, quoting one teenage boy who told her that whereas he had previously thought he would end up in prison or dead, now he can see himself gaining qualifications, earning a living and having a much brighter future.

Chief Superintendent Tom Coughlan is responsible for the Birmingham Reducing Gang Violence Strategy. He said, “My Life | My Choice is about addressing the issues that affect young people in Birmingham in a way that is relevant and attractive to them. The input of local teenagers was crucial at each step of this project, which aims ultimately to change the behaviour of those who might be tempted to get involved in gangs or carrying weapons.”

West Midlands Police and various local authorities are now investing in further resources to roll out the programme across the rest of the region.

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