'Knockbacks haven't stopped me fighting for young Sheffield people' - anti-knife campaigner tells his life story after awards nomination

After the birth of my second child, I found myself lost in a place of violence and depression. My outlook on life was negative, expect the worst and trust nobody because no nobody is there when you need them.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 3:48 pm
Anthony runs weapons collections among other projects

This outlook was purely based on my upbringing, living in council houses and moving homes frequently. I had found myself easily placed in a world of criminality due to the violence at home and not having a positive role model: my role model being the Notorious BIG and local drug dealers.

I had no purpose, no focus and other than my children, no real reason to live. Until I decided enough was enough and I wanted to live for others, set examples to others, not just my children, but their children’s, children’s, children. Do you know your great-great-grand parents? Why not, they are the reason you are here.

Anyway, I locked myself in my house until I came up with a game plan; the first step was easy, get an income. I got a job at a local frozen food chain doing deliveries. The pay was rubbish but it got me mixing with different people and I was able to provide for my family: each pay check made me proud. Then there was a problem, I kept getting pain in my feet and my toes went numb. I went to my doctor and was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and extreme flat foot. A foot disability that causes me major issues with mobility. I got signed off from work, it was a big blow, I should have been upset as my old mindset was right. However, I was ready, I was focused and ready to tackle this issue head on.

Anthony is nominated for a positive role model plaudit in a diversity awards

Back the drawing board, as I couldn’t work with my body I had to work with my brain. The next step was university. I looked at courses and chose one I felt I could enjoy, computer networks. I went back to college to get a maths GCSE. I passed with a B and got into university. At this stage I was 24, with two children and I felt so much out of my comfort zone. My first ever test result would change the rest of my life.My tutor put me in for a learning difficulty test as she saw I was struggling. Dyslexic, here we are again another knock back? Not for me! I read books on it, watched videos, anything to help me understand. Throughout that year I thought myself how to learn my own way. Every year I passed with a makeover 70 per cent allowing me to get my degree with a first. Then I went on to do a masters in Advanced Computer network engineering and scored the highest mark in the class.

During my time at university, I started Stay Safe Security LTD, a security company that specialises in safeguarding vulnerable children and adults. I loved the company as it is helping people, but not enough. So midway through my masters I set up another company, Limitless homes and support with a friend. It is supported accommodation for young people aged 16 to 18. My job is education and engagement mentor and it is growing faster than we could have ever imagined, we are making a huge difference.

As soon as my security company was able to give me a wage, I was able to do what I wanted to do, help young people, this came in the form of an award-winning anti-knife crime campaign called #KeepSheffieldStainess. I delivered free workshops, purchased a weapons bin and provided weapons collection. Unfortunately, during the campaign I developed secondary trauma and PTSD through what I had seen when I was younger (a murder when I was 16) and stories from people that needed help.

I nearly gave up. But I felt that I just needed to focus on the helping by looking at the mind behind the weapon and offer support to young people. So, I created Always An Alternative, a not for profit.

I still do workshops and 121s but now I focus on the mindset, not the weapon.

We now have six weapons bins, the last collection collected over 50 weapons. I have teamed up with Sheffield Forge to run free American football training sessions. My part is the mindset coach! I also talk with parents to ensure their behaviour is good at home.

During Covid we made a pen pal project and over 100 kids got involved.

Finally, my book, One Knives Many Lives! I created it to spread awareness of the destruction knife crime causes while highlighting domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health. I self-published the book and I didn’t even have a C in English. Something I am very proud of.All the work I have done around youth violence and empowerment is voluntary. In the past three years I haven't taken a wage, it all goes back into the young people.

Anthony has been put forward for The National Diversity Awards 2021.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

To vote for him visit: https://nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/nominate/34611/