An evaluation carried out by SOS+ and Coventry University found that over half of all young people who participated in our SOS+ sessions rated them as 10 out of 10 and stated that their views of gangs had changed as a result of the intervention.

Furthermore, 20% of them admitted to having previously carried a knife and 44% stated that they knew someone who did.

These exciting findings based on feedback from 735 post-session evaluations completed by young people and teachers, form an ongoing partnership between SOS Project and Coventry University.

SOS+ offers sessions in schools and other similar settings for vulnerable young people at risk of becoming involved in gangs. It acts as a preventative tool by providing knowledge and dispelling myths. By using methods such as role play and highlighting real life examples, it typically focuses on the dangers of carrying weapons along with changing young people’s perceptions of gangs and crime. During the last six months alone, the team have delivered 118 sessions reaching 6,147 people.

The young people surveyed highlighted increasing their knowledge and learning methods on how to stay safe as the most beneficial elements of the sessions whilst also saying they liked the realistic and interactive nature of them.

“Every week in London we are seeing the sad consequences of young people mistakenly believing there is a safe place to stab someone or that they will protect themselves by carrying a weapon,” said SOS Founder Junior Smart. “This is where SOS+ comes in by increasing young people’s knowledge and offering them real tools on how to stay crime-free. Using professionally trained ex-offenders with first-hand knowledge of what the issues are gives us an edge and makes us able to connect with some of the most disengaged young people.”

Future suggestions from SOS+ from staff and teachers included an increased focus on the involvement of girls and young women in gangs. The evaluators suggested following up with the young people at a later date to assess the longer term effects of the session.

Download a copy of the SOS+ evaluation here