The mother of a teenager murdered in a knife attack is launching a film to warn young people about the tragic consequences of carrying knives.
Sarah Lloyd is launching the film alongside Vilson Duarte-Dong, an ex-young offender who has turned his life around.
The film called ‘Cut Short – Fighting against Knives in the North’ has been produced by Tell Studio, which has been working closely with Sarah for the past couple of years. It features Sarah’s story about her 17-year-old son Kieran who died after being stabbed in an incident in Leeds a decade ago.
The University of Leeds postgraduate student was heartbroken and felt a desperate need to drive home a message in schools about the consequences of carrying a knife, which young people are doing in increasing numbers.
She teamed up with Vilson, who graduated from Leeds Beckett University and helps Sarah deliver focus groups and talks to young people across West Yorkshire.
Sarah started delivering her work straight after her son’s murder trial in 2013, initially with young offenders convicted of carrying knives, in an effort to confront them to turn their lives around.
She went on to work within schools to continue educating young people on the consequences of knife crime through Safer Leeds Community Policing initiatives, and in 2016 decided to go to university to gain the academic insight to complement her lived experience.
In 2016 she signed up for a foundation degree course at the University of Leeds with support from the Lifelong Learning Centre, which helps adults from a range of backgrounds get back into education.
The following year, after completing the foundation course, she was offered a place on a degree course in Professional Studies, which she felt would give her the in-depth research and analysis skills she needed to create the learning resources that she still uses today within schools.
One of the learning resources is an audio book called Life without Kie. This was her nickname for Kieran.
“I continue to deliver talks and workshops because I want to prevent other families living through the pain and trauma that I’ve experienced and still do on a daily basis,” said Sarah.
“I produced the audio book so young people could connect with and understand the devastating impact of living with traumatic loss. It is narrated through the eyes of a family dog so young people can engage with and understand loss from a third person perspective.”
It is available to buy as an e-book and audio book on Amazon but she also made it available on YouTube so young people can access it at no cost.
The documentary film which she has submitted to the International Leeds Film Festival, raises awareness of knife crime, gang crime and criminal exploitation of young people.
Sarah intends for the film to be distributed free of charge to schools and colleges.
She feels privileged to have received funding this year as one of 13 Spark entrepreneur scholars. She also received business advice and office space in Nexus, from where she runs her business Heartspoken, as a freelance violence reduction research practitioner.
Sarah, a mother of four and grandmother of six children, is currently studying her MA in Social Research in the school of Sociology and Social Policy.
It has been a long, hard journey but education has been part of my life for several years now and I will continue to share my experience for the greater good, even though at times it has emotionally taken its toll on my mental health.”
Whilst working as a Student Ambassador on campus, she delivered work as part of a larger initiative with Leeds United Foundation’s Positive Choices programme which aims to help people make better choices about their lives and futures. She outsourced some of her resources so they could continue delivering her message while she took time to study.
Her dissertation will explore girls’ roles in gangs and criminal exploitation of youth to further her in-depth knowledge.
She said: “It has been a long, hard journey but education has been part of my life for several years now and I will continue to share my experience for the greater good, even though at times it has emotionally taken its toll on my mental health.
“My battle to reduce knife crime will never stop.”