Students at Newcastle College have been taking part in a series of workshops from St John Ambulance’s innovative street first aid programme Young Responders, and anti-knife campaigner Tanya Brown, in response to the rising rates of knife crime in the North East.

Young Responders teaches young people aged 11 - 25 life-saving street first aid skills, helping them understand what to do in an emergency, including if they or a friend are stabbed.

The programme team has now joined forces with Tanya Brown, who lost her 18-year-old son Connor to knife crime in 2019. Tanya visits schools and colleges with the Connor Brown Trust, set up in Connor’s memory, to talk to young people about the dangers of knife crime, gangs and criminal activity.

Tanya 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.

“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.”  

Jon Ridley, Deputy Principal of Newcastle College said: “Newcastle College gives a warm welcome to Young Responders and the Connor Brown Trust. 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.” 

Pauline Bartley, Young Responder Project Manager, teamed 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 Responder 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 the project 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.