Changing Social Norms around carrying knives in Liverpool!

RiseUp CIC and Social Sense Community have secured Home Office funding for a pioneering social norms programme focused on knife crime with over 600 year 8 pupils in Liverpool.

On the back of 150,000 young people participating with the programme and a recent award at the UK Public Sector Communications Awards, the Home Office has commissioned Social Sense Community’s RU Different? programme for a pilot study on knife crime with young people.

The study, which is due to start in November, will be delivered in three Liverpool schools. Rise Up CIC will deliver the project, with Social Sense Community leading on the marketing and evaluation.


Photo: Adam McCooey, Social Sense CIC (Left) with Ashleigh Nugent, Rise Up CIC (Right).

The R U Different? programme follows the social norming approach which based upon a well-articulated theory of behaviour and evidence-based methodology for addressing health and social justice issues (Berkowitz, 2012).

Interventions focussing on changing Social norms are still widely accepted as being a successful early intervention tool across many different areas, including of course, health and wellbeing, especially that of young people whom we know are very much influenced by their peers.

The project will dispel social norms myths that apply specifically to carrying knives in the local community.

The objectives of the project are:

  • Changing attitudes towards carrying/using a knife
  • Changing perceptions around reporting knife crime
  • Awareness of the consequences of carrying/using a knife
  • Changing perceptions around girls carrying a knife
  • Opening diversionary activities for young people in Liverpool
  • Awareness of local support services

This approach is underpinned by the RiseUp programme which has produced outstanding results in prisons, schools and PRUs. RiseUp’s Rap workshops will explore the reasons why young people become involved in antisocial and illegal activities, and how hobbies, self esteem and a sense of purpose can divert them from such behaviours.

Along with young people, Social Sense Community and Rise Up CIC will seek the views of relevant stakeholders in order to evaluate the programme and provide a picture of the scale and nature of the problem of young people carrying knives in Liverpool.

Social Sense Community and Rise Up CIC will work in partnership with local services to disseminate the outcomes from this project in order to help shape future policy.

Reece Hobson, Programmes Manager at Social Sense Community, believes this partnership pilot will provide “invaluable insight for young people involved or at risk of carrying a knife on the consequences and awareness of local support services”.

Ashleigh Nugent, Programme Director at Rise Up CIC, said: “I have been both a victim and perpetrator of knife crime. For over fifteen years I have worked to help others find the sense of purpose, belonging and self-worth that lead me towards a complete turnaround in my lifestyle. It was rap music and books that saved my life. Maybe this project will save someone else’s?”

For more information on the project, either click here, or alternatively please contact Reece Hobson on 0161 216 4080 / or Ashleigh on 07813 050 922 /

By Reece Hobson.

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