An NHS worker from South London has described the harrowing experience of dealing with the aftermath of stabbing after stabbing.
Omonua Agbonbhasalena, 51, would rush to deal with critical incidents while working in NHS blood banks, cross matching blood types to avoid massive haemorrhages in stab victims.
The distressing experience made him acutely aware of the costs of knife crime.
He is now working with children to introduce them to people who have experienced gang violence first-hand so they can learn about the true impact of knife crime.
His charity, Ekpoma Okpa Association UK, based in Bermondsey, launched a campaign in response to one of the worst years on record for teenage killings in the capital.
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Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Police warned London was on track for a devastatingly record-breaking year. There have been 26 teenage killings in the capital so far. The record was 29 in 2008.
Mr Agbonbhasalena described talking to the mother of a child lost to knife crime and how small reminders such as seeing his old shoes in the attic would bring her grief back even years later.
He said: “There is quite a lot put into childcare; it’s quite involving and you have the hope of bringing someone up.
“Then when someone is cut off and terminated by the violence of others, I imagine this could have been me.
“Any time I hear it, it’s so so touching and so sad.
“I spoke to a mother on Sunday and she said ‘It’s never-ending, I have just seen his shoes in the attic’. That happened in 2018 and it’s still very raw.”
His charity received £10,000 in National Lottery Funding in June and has carried out three major events since, using a mix of knife crime victims, former gang members, and one Tottenham academy player who turned his life around, to perform outreach with school children.
The group has held events in Burgess Park, near Peckham, where children can ask questions to speakers while they share their experiences, while also sharing a dedicated helpline number.
More events in schools around London are planned until the end of the year.
Mr Agbonbhaselena also hopes by organising activities – like football, table tennis, athletics, and arts and crafts – they can help keep young people busy and away from gang culture.
He added the current state of knife crime is a result of “failures by communities, authorities, and families”, and we need to “abandon a one-size-fits-all approach and address each area directly”.
He said: “If you are a black parent like me, when you listen to other deaths on the TV you get scared and want to contribute.
“We will do whatever we can to stop it, to reduce it, and contribute to what the government is doing.”
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