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Ipswich youngsters voice anxieties over town's rise in knife crime

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 June 2017

Youngsters with special education needs at WS Training have voiced their anxieties over recent stabbings in Ipswich and terror attacks. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Youngsters with special education needs at WS Training have voiced their anxieties over recent stabbings in Ipswich and terror attacks. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Staff at an Ipswich education centre have said its youngsters are increasingly voicing fears over gun and knife crime and terrorism which is affecting their ability to learn.

WS Training has been holding sessions to help youngsters talk about their fears. Picture: GREGG BROWNWS Training has been holding sessions to help youngsters talk about their fears. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The WS Training centre in Fore Street runs classes, traineeships and apprenticeships for 16-24 year olds, many of whom struggle with autism, high levels of anxiety, mental health problems or have been involved in crime.

But following the high-profile terror attacks in London and Manchester and a string of stabbings in Ipswich town centre, tutors at the centre have reported the youngsters are increasingly becoming anxious.

“As an educational provider this has been a really difficult year trying to keep young people engaged and motivated, and I think a lot has to be with being in an unstable world at the moment,” said Sherry Fry, centre manager.

“Young people know of a lot of other young people that want to talk or share their thoughts but they don’t really know who to go to and how to express the feelings they have.”

Youngsters at WS Training talking about their anxieties over recent stabbings in Ipswich and terror attacks. Picture: GREGG BROWNYoungsters at WS Training talking about their anxieties over recent stabbings in Ipswich and terror attacks. Picture: GREGG BROWN

For those who go to WS Training each day, many know the perpetrators or victims of recent knife crimes, which staff say is making it harder for youngsters to focus on their education.

“It’s hard because their minds are on something else,” said Troy Codrington, study programme tutor.

“It is constantly playing on their minds, and it’s a lot for them to go through while growing up. Not long ago they didn’t think of a gun in Ipswich but because the knife crime is increasing so much and it is being talked about they think it is becoming a reality, and that’s brought so much worry.”

The centre has now been holding sessions to help the youngsters talk about whether they feel safe in town, as well as discussing gun and knife crime and whether they are affected.

Youth workers from Suffolk Young People’s Health Service (4YP) have also visited to signpost them to advice, counselling and support services available.

“I think there needs to be more money invested in front line youth work staff,” Ms Fry added.

“There is very little out there and it has to be put in front of young people. They have got a high chance of being the young people that sit on long term benefits because school doesn’t necessarily suit them, but I don’t want them to be a lost generation.”

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