Friday, 08 December 2023: St John Ambulance’s innovative street first aid programme Young Responders is joining forces with anti-knife campaigner Tanya Brown to co-deliver workshops to Newcastle College students. 

Tanya Brown

Young Responders – which teaches young people aged 11 to 25 life-saving street first aid skills from what to do if a friend is spiked or stabbed to CPR and stemming a bleed - has delivered workshops to thousands of young people in schools in London, West Midland and the North-East since launching in March. 

Statistics from the Police Crime Commissioner for Northumbria reveals total crime increased by 6% in the 12 months to July 2023, with an increase in violence against a person amongst other crimes. Since 2019 to July 2023, there has been a 12% rise in serious knife violence incidents. 

The Young Responders programme team has now joined forces with Tanya Brown, who since losing her 18-year-old son Connor, 18, to knife crime in 2019, has been giving talks to young people in schools and colleges – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds - on the dangers of knife crime, gangs and criminal activity. 

Tanya, who gives talks as part of the Connor Brown Trust to educate that knife crime can affect anyone, said: “Connor wasn’t involved in gangs or anti-social behaviour. He was generally one of life’s good guys. His passion was sport. He loved life and was a real people person. He died trying to break up a fight.” 

Through the Connor Brown Trust, set up in Connor’s memory, Tanya visits schools and talks about Connor, knife crime and gangs, and bravely shares upsetting details about Connor’s injuries and how he died.

She said: “We aim to educate students and make them realise that carrying a knife, using any weapon and committing crimes is never worth the price that is paid.”  

Pauline Bartley, Young Responders Project Manager, had the idea of teaming up with Tanya after meeting her at the North-East Anti Knife Crime Taskforce, a group of campaigners, MPs and councillors, and youth organisations, being championed by the Northern Echo.

She said: “The Young Responders team are delighted to be working with Tanya, who shares our passion and commitment to make a big impact in communities. We want to give young people the support and confidence to feel safe in their communities.” 

The impact of Young Responders is already being seen with just 7% of students saying before the Young Responder workshops they would feel confident in helping someone in need of first aid. This jumped to an incredible 94% following the sessions.

Jon Ridley, Deputy Principal of Newcastle College said: “Newcastle College gives a warm welcome to Young Responders and the Connor Brown Trust as they visit our campus throughout December. Recent tragic events in our region have shown knife crime is a growing issue, particularly for young people.

“We know our students will benefit from these open conversations and learn vital hands on first aid from Young Responders. We hope these skills will never be needed, but we want to make sure our students are equipped with the knowledge to know what to do in an emergency.” 

Sessions are being run from December 4-18 at Newcastle College.

The £1m Young Responders programme, funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery, is a targeted programme unlike any other St John youth programme, delivering workshops in schools in under-served communities in London, West Midlands and the North-East, where young people may be at risk of street violence or crime.

St John previously campaigned successfully for first aid to be taught in schools and in 2020 it was added to the school curriculum in state schools in England. St John is hoping to continue the Young Responders programme and extend to other areas in the UK if it can secure funding into 2024.