By Minreet Kaur
A young barrister has teamed up with a knife crime campaigner to form the first black and Sikh community initiative to take knives off the streets and give young people hope.
Tinessa Kaur, 29, was inspired after encountering Faron Paul, who has been stabbed nine times and runs a campaign called #fazamnesty.
He moves around London trying to persuade young people with knives to hand them in, quit the gang culture and turn their lives round. Before the pandemic, the number of knife crimes surged to 46,000 offences a year, the highest recorded since data was compiled.
Tinessa is the director of Kaurs Legal UK and co-founder of the Sikh Lawyers Association, called to the bar 18 months ago.
The project, Cut it Out, aims to engage young people and encourage and support them to move away from a life surrounded by knives and gangs. It will organise workshops, advising on the consequences of knife crime, offering self-defence classes, anger management and education.
Illiteracy will be tackled with help in filling out basic forms such as applications for driving licences or passports. Help writing CVs will be given and work experience organised.
The project will also launch the Triple AAA team — the Appropriate Adult Army, where trained adults can assist in cases where a juvenile may have been arrested but their parents are unable to attend the police station.
In a YouTube video, Tinessa Kaur says her motivation comes from a troubled childhood, where her anger led to fights and a short suspension from school.
“I went off the rails like these children because I didn’t have the positive father role model in my life. I could have spiralled out of control and continued behaving badly but I realised I had a choice to change and I took that route,” she says.
“I want these children to understand that they will never find the lifestyle and family network they are looking for in these gangs. We want to create this support network for them to provide them with a safe space, positive role models, family network and opportunities that they won’t get anywhere else.”
The project has 30 volunteers signed up, with many more coming forward.