Teenagers from all over Renfrewshire flocked to the home of St Mirren to play in a street football tournament and back the launch of a national knife crime campaign.
Hundreds of young people attended the Safer and Stronger Street Football Tournament at St Mirren Park to play in the five-a-side tournament and enjoy a host of other activities including, skateboarding, climbing walls, basketball, Renfrewshire youth bus and youth gym bus.
The event was also attended by Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill who joined members of Renfrewshire Youth Voice to launch the local No Knives Better Lives campaign on the day.
No Knives, Better Lives is a national youth engagement initiative which aims to give young people good reasons not to carry a knife, showing them that it’s not worth the risks or consequences, and helping to shape positive attitudes and influencing positive life choices by promoting diversionary activities.
Mr MacAskill said: “We are working in partnership with the council, police, schools and young people in Renfrewshire to create a very local No Knives Better Lives campaign that is tailored to the community and supporting the good work they are already doing.
“Far too many lives are lost and people injured though mindless acts of violence – often because of the knife culture that blights some communities. That is why we are working to change the culture around violence in Scotland.”
The initiative is being rolled out to Renfrewshire after a successful pilot in Inverclyde and launches in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Clackmannanshire this month.
The programme will be championed locally by Renfrewshire Youth Voice (RYV), which provides a platform for young people, aged between 14 and 25, to express their views and opinions on the issues that affect them.
On the day members of RYV ran a No Knives Better Lives stand to give out information to other young people about the campaign and encourage them to sign No Knives Better Lives pledges.
RYV are planning a year of action on No Knives Better Lives and have been raising awareness of the issues associated with knife crime at local Gala days and recently marched at the Sma’ Shot day with a No Knives Better Lives banner.
The Safer and Stronger Street Football Tournament was part of the award-winning Investing in Future diversion activity project.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Derek Mackay said: “Investing in Future has been a massive success with these activities going out to different communities every week to provide young people with fun, healthy activities to get involved in. This was the first time we’ve had an event like this where all those activities, and more, are going to be in one place and it was a massive success.”
Investing in Futures is a partnership project supported by Renfrewshire Council, Paisley Partnership Regeneration Company, St Mirren FC, Strathclyde Police, Arriva, Scottish Football Association and Ferguslie Sports Centre.
St Mirren manager Danny Lennon said: “We were delighted to host the Street Football Tournament at St Mirren Park. Since my arrival at the Club, I have heard a lot about the amount of excellent programmes that are done by St Mirren within the local community. The Street Football programme has already been given a community award and is a fantastic programme and is well known throughout the whole Renfrewshire area.
“Over the years, football skills have been developed through practice and many a quality player has come from playing street football in their youth. St Mirren FC is delighted to be heavily involved within the programme and it is only fitting that St Mirren Park hosted this tournament.