Gloucester’s knife crime needs a ‘re-think’

As knife crime recorded by police rises in England by 8%, what is the solution for making Gloucester’s streets safe and free from the devastating effects of violent crime?

Gloucestershire’s level of knife crime is up by a shocking 38%, whilst the number of police officers have dropped dramatically in the last ten years.

Knife crime has had a devastating effect on families and communities. This year, on the 18th February, the community will mark five years since Hollie Gazzard, a 20-year-old hairdresser from Gloucester, who was killed by her jealous ex-boyfriend. Since then, the family has set up the ‘Hollie Gazzard Trust’ in her memory, to educate people on and reduce crimes such as domestic violence, anti-social behaviour and knife crime.

Hollie’s dad and Founder of the Hollie Gazzard Trust, Nick, said it’s all about raising awareness.

“We want to try to raise the awareness of the devastation of knife crime as best as we can.”

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Nick has also been working alongside Gloucester Crown Court, educating young members of the community who have been caught with knives. He believes in educating people in schools, universities and communities. The use of the ‘positive bystander effect’, signalling disapproval for a behaviour, allows people to safely intervene in the community.

He said:

“I’m a big believer that a lot of the views around stalking, domestic abuse and knife crime actually is a community issue. We can educate a community more to challenge how we deal with these issues and stop them happening. If we raise awareness and educate people, they can actually get involved”.

Gloucester’s Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate, Rebecca Trimnell, believes we need a new strategy in how we tackle knife crime in Gloucester.

She said:

“I believe combating knife crime both in Gloucester and across the UK is not just simply about putting more police on the streets.

“The whole issue needs a ‘re-think’ and we need to understand the reasons why individuals carry knives in the first place. I am very much in favour of the police setting up regular knife amnesties to get people to give up any illegal knives they may have, but I am mindful of the strength of peer pressure. Therefore, a stand alone amnesty would not go far enough without also focusing on educating young people on the pain and damage caused by knives.”

If you would like to find out more about Hollie or the Hollie Gazzard Trust, please visit the website at https://holliegazzard.org

A program about Hollie, Stalked: Murder in slow motion, will be broadcast Tuesday 12th February at 10pm on Channel 5.

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(Photo and logo used with permission of the Hollie Gazzard Trust. Copyright: Hollie Gazzard Trust)

Transgender Education In Gloucester

A transgender student says there should be more teacher training about LGBT issues in schools.

Salem, a 19 year old transgender student from Quedgeley, says we need to rethink the way we educate people on the LGBT community with a focus more on teaching and education.

He said that ‘more needs to be done’ to inform teachers and parents of the complexity of issues surrounding coming out as LGBT, specifically to his case Transgender.

This is raised in a Stonewall study, saying that more than a third of trans students in higher education have experienced negative comments or behaviour from staff in the last year (2018).

Salem said:

“Education when it comes to trans issues is really important, as a lot of people don’t understand unless you are going through it, or have had someone go through it.

“You should be training your teachers to be sensitive to issues anyway, regardless of whether they believe in it or not.”

Richard Johnson, headteacher at Severnvale School in Quedgeley, has been increasing support for the transgender community by working with students individually and ensuring they are accepted by others. He said:

“We are at a very early stage in terms of supporting our transgender students.

“We are looking at how we can develop this support during this academic year. This will involve training for staff both teaching and non-teaching.

“We are an inclusive school and are very happy to have them as part of our school community.”

Worrying findings from QueerFutures study showed that:

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It concluded that support and understanding helped people through mental health difficulties in association with gender dysphoria. It also spoke about care in the community.

A possible step forward could be the rise of more specialists in Gloucestershire to cope with the increasing numbers of people in the transgender community.

Salem said that members of his family and Gay-Glos have been ‘amazing’ and that they really helped with his confidence.

Claudette, Salem’s mum, said:

“The community could do with a lot more support. As a parent I try and be as supportive as possible. I’m always here for him and he’s still my child at the end of the day.”

Salem responded:

“For mum to treat me like the person I am instead of just being trans, it’s just amazing. And that’s because of education.”

Light Up Cheltenham is a Hit!

Hundreds of people lined the streets to launch Light Up Cheltenham and catch a glimpse of illuminating drummers Spark!.

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Despite the cold, huge crowds paraded through the city past lit up Cheltenham landmarks with the drumming group. The performance ended in Imperial Square taking in the views of the giant 35 metre high observation wheel. The wheel is a first for Cheltenham and will be here for the entirety of the event. It was already popular on Saturday with long queues of people hoping to get a birds-eye view of the town.

Spark!, a group of 5 light up drummers, were a massive hit last year and were invited back by event organisers Cheltenham BID.

Cheltenham BID Director Kevan Blackadder said:

“We were delighted that hundreds of people turned out for the launch of Light Up Cheltenham. We ran the event for the first time in February last year because it is traditionally a quiet time of year when people are less likely to visit towns and city centres.

“It was so well received that we decided to extend it from a week to three weeks this year and add a major attraction, the Giant Observation Wheel, which is already proving very popular. We have also increased the number of buildings involved from around a dozen to more than 40.”

Cheltenham’s business was booming on Saturday with the organisers hoping the event attracts more people to the town.

“The buzz around it will bring people to town to the benefit of both night-time businesses and retailers. Many were saying that Saturday was far busier than they expected and that it was entirely down to Light Up Cheltenham.”

The event runs for three weeks from the 2nd February to the 24th. A special performance on Cheltenham High Street from the Photon Juggling Glow Show on Saturday 16th February will be a great way to kick off the half term holidays.

The giant wheel will give guests a chance to enjoy the sights from above with adults tickets at £5, £4 for a child and £15 for a family ticket.

The 40 Cheltenham buildings will also be turning red for Valentines Day, the perfect backdrop for a romantic proposal..

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World Theatre Day!

It’s World Theatre Day!

It’s so important to recognise all the wonderful people who work in theatre and celebrate everyone from the creative team, backstage and cast. I’ve been very lucky to come from a theatre background where I was brought up watching musicals and continued my hobby of performing. It wasn’t until I worked with TodayTix at The Stage Debut Awards that I realised I could explore my passion for theatre through interviewing. Even though I’ve taken this turn in my career path studying journalism, theatre will always have a place in my life!

What’s your favourite thing about theatre..? #WorldTheatreDay

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@TodayTixUK