“We can never accept loss of life through youth violence as ‘normal’ in our city and it’s so important that we all work together to create a better environment for young people.” – Ian Wright MBE, courtesy of arsenal.com.

The distinctive red and white shirts of Arsenal Football Club are instantly recognisable to any football fan, but last month the club removed all red colouring from their branding as part of an effort to make the streets of London a safer place for young people.

No More Red: How Arsenal FC Has Pledged To Make London Safer
Arsenal’s all-white shirts. Photo: arsenal.com

According to BBC statistics, 2021 saw the most teen murders in London. The majority of these were linked to knife crime. Because of this, Arsenal FC has launched the “No More Red” campaign alongside sports brand and sponsor Adidas. 

Recognising the increasing prevalence of knife crime within London, the club has pledged to work towards changing this worrying situation and making a positive difference in affected communities. Through the No More Red initiative, Arsenal FC intends to contribute to the reduction of knife crime in the capital and to tackle youth violence at its roots, within the communities themselves. The campaign will do this by providing opportunities for young people in vulnerable areas, giving them access to mentorship programmes and creating safe spaces for them to develop their skills and passions. 

This will include building and renovating football pitches, providing training to young people and using the expansive network of Arsenal and Adidas to find role models who can advise and inspire individuals involved in the initiative. 

It is hoped that creating these valuable prospects for young people will reduce the likelihood of them becoming caught up in youth violence and knife crime in the future.

One individual who has already been supported by the initiative is Verona, who grew up in North London and witnessed the effects of youth violence. Verona had previously been supported by Arsenal, as their Community Hub provided her with a place to socialise after school in a safe environment. Verona says that the Community Hub also supported her ambitions of becoming an artist during college by arranging a mentoring opportunity with a local artist. This year, thanks to the No More Red campaign, Verona was given the opportunity to get advice from well-known artist Reuben Dangoor and to design the cover of a match day programme for Arsenal, providing her with a major opportunity to develop her skills.

No More Red: How Arsenal FC Has Pledged To Make London Safer
Verona’s artwork on the match day programme of Arsenal vs Burnley. Photo: programme.arsenal.com

To raise awareness for this initiative, Arsenal’s first team wore the all-white shirts of the No More Red campaign in an FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest in January, issuing a clear statement about the importance of reducing levels of knife crime. 

According to the club’s website, the special edition of the kit “will never be commercially available and will only ever be awarded to individuals who are making a positive difference in the community”. One such individual is Verona, who was given a personalised shirt.

No More Red: How Arsenal FC Has Pledged To Make London Safer
Arsenal wearing the shirts last month. Photo: arsenal.com

The shirts worn by the outfield players in Arsenal’s FA Cup match have since been gifted to the 10 organisations working with the club as part of the No More Red campaign. These organisations are:

–   Arsenal in the Community 

– The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation    

–   Steel Warriors 

–   Don’t Stab Your Future (DSYF)   

–   Box Up Crime

–  Copenhagen Youth Project 

–   St Giles Trust    

–   Abianda 

–   Octopus Community Network    

–  The Ben Kinsella Trust

Each of these organisations work hard to combat youth violence within vulnerable communities. Steel Warriors, for example, melts down knives which have been taken from the streets and recycles them into outdoor gyms. This aims to engage young people in street workouts, allowing them to pursue their passions in a secure and supportive environment whilst simultaneously connecting and strengthening the communities involved.

Box Up Crime similarly engages young people who are vulnerable to the impacts of knife crime, providing boxing training as a safe and constructive outlet for individuals who may be impacted by youth violence, as well as providing educational programmes, mentoring and job opportunities.

Abianda aims to create a more secure environment within the community by supporting young women impacted by gangs. The organisation improves the services and support networks available to women in these communities and provides training for professionals to ensure that a reliable and accessible system is in place to help those affected by gangs and youth violence.

No More Red: How Arsenal FC Has Pledged To Make London Safer
Shirts being gifted to the organisations involved. Photo: arsenal.com

The collaboration between Arsenal and Adidas for the No More Red initiative, and its support of these 10 organisations, is a positive step towards tackling the issue of knife crime within London, and the UK as a whole. Through this initiative, Arsenal is providing safe spaces for young people and ensuring that those in vulnerable communities have access to opportunities, networks and support systems which will help them to build a successful future away from the impacts of violence. 

The campaign is a powerful example of a prominent football team using their influence to make a constructive contribution to the wider community and to help young people aim for their goals, ensuring that they reach their full potential.You can learn more about this initiative in the short film (below) produced by Arsenal.

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