Throughout the month of February, we’re telling the story of the 21 teenagers who were murdered in 2023. Our campaign, The 21, seeks to remember every victim as a young person with a family and their whole life ahead of them. We want to change the culture of kids carrying knives and becoming involved in violence.

Knife crime against young people can feel “never ending” to a man running a major anti-knife charity following a 16-year-old being stabbed to death.

But, he says there is a promising future in preventing such savage attacks despite many “dark days” last year.

The Ben Kinsella Trust was formed in 2008, months after Ben, 16, was killed in Islington when attacked unprovoked during his GCSE results celebration.

Ben had left the Shillibeers bar on North Road and was chased following a dispute among a large group which spilled into the streets.

He was stabbed several times on June 29, 2008, and died later at Whittington Hospital.

Romford Recorder: Patrick Green, the CEO of Ben Kinsella TrustPatrick Green, the CEO of Ben Kinsella Trust (Image: Ben Kinsella Trust)

The trust was registered after Ben’s family, including his soap actress sister Brooke Kinsella who starred as Kelly Taylor in Eastenders, campaigned to stop knife crime.

Patrick Green, the CEO of the trust since 2016, said that the most damning youth knife statistic is that “this has never stopped”.

He continued: “There are some dark days when we hear of murders and you can lose confidence when confronted by this.

“From the young people we’ve worked with, which is the bit that keeps me going, I’m absolutely convinced – given the results of our workshop and what I’ve seen – is in terms of young people turning their lives around, this is absolutely solvable.”

Romford Recorder: Ben KinsellaBen Kinsella (Image: Met Police)

However, Mr Green acknowledges that it is a “complex problem” and emphasises that the solution to prevent violence with blades cannot be quickly turned around.

He said: “It is too often portrayed as very simply all we need to do is put more police on the streets, lock people away for longer, create a deterrent in the justice system and that will address this problem.

“All of those things are important of course, but ultimately we have to tackle some of the underlying issues that are driving knife crime. There are traditional ones that have never been addressed – depravation, poverty, inequality, mental health provision for young people.

“But then there are merging ones which over the last five years have become more apparent. The role that social media plays.

“The crazy thing about this myth that ‘a knife protects you’, which has been around forever, from our perspective is getting stronger rather than weaker.

“It is reinforced through what is seen in social media. The challenge for us is there isn’t a strong counter narrative other than the work that we do.

“Yes politicians and police carry a heavy burden in tackling this issue and need to focus on that. We all have a role to play.

“We need to ensure that they feel safe and they know what is a myth and what positive actions they can take to stay safe.”

Romford Recorder: A look at the Ben Kinsella Trust exhibitionA look at the Ben Kinsella Trust exhibition (Image: Ben Kinsella Trust)

Out of 6,000 youths surveyed by the charity, those living in unsafe areas said they’re three times more likely to pick up a knife than those who do feel safe.

Mr Green theorised that some youngsters may hear of a stabbing in the area and therefore think “I must carry a knife to protect myself”.

“There is that kind of arms race,” he said.

Over the years Mr Green would encourage parents to check their children’s drawers for knives stowed away, but he says it’s often that kids are buying machetes or zombie knives online and parents should keep an eye on deliveries made.

He also added that while the narrative about knife attacks are boys and gang related violence, anyone can be targeted.

This was seen with 17-year-old Jodie Chesney who was sat on a picnic bench in Amy’s Park, Harold Hill, when she was stabbed and killed in 2019, or schoolgirl Elianne Andam, 15, who was attacked with a foot-long knife in Croydon in 2023.

Romford Recorder: A look at the Ben Kinsella Trust exhibitionA look at the Ben Kinsella Trust exhibition (Image: Ben Kinsella Trust)

“What we forget is that if you look through all the victims of knife crime, girls are affected too.

“It’s all the more shocking when these things happen to young people who got no connection with anything and get murdered as such, Ben was one of those people as well.”

Mr Green explained when the charity was formed, the intention was to see how they could “add value” to the sector rather than just copy what others are doing.

This resulted in the trust creating an “immersive experience exhibition” in 2011 with people directly affected by the crime, to help visitors walk in their shoes and understand what is happening and the consequences of such violence.

Now there are two centres in London and one in Nottingham drawing 6,000 youngsters a year to learn about the harsh reality of knife crime.

According to Mr Green, he sees a significant difference in the attitude of visitors coming and leaving, as he believes people reconsider their decisions.  

He added: “We’re very keen to talk to as many young people as we can. We want to get this message out to as many people as we can.

“We think there’s an urgent need to go out and talk to as many young people as we can and that’s our ambition going forward next year.”

If you wish to refer your child to one of the charity's crime prevention workshops or would like to hear more of the work at the Ben Kinsella Trust, visit: