‘I’ve heard about young people on the news, but I haven’t come across any media that features young people speaking for themselves about how they are feeling during the coronavirus pandemic. This campaign is designed to change that.’
Ambassador for the Mayor of London’s ‘London Needs You Alive’ knife-crime campaign, Amani Simpson has been on a mission to change the lives of young people since surviving a near-fatal knife attack, putting the spotlight firmly on the youth with his charity Aviard inspires and the viral film he made with actor Joivan Wade, ‘Amani’ which this year achieved 2.5 million YouTube views.
The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on young people all over the world. Here in Britain, children have had to cope with schools suddenly closing their doors, the cancellation of exams, and a prohibition of face to face or social time with their peers. A lack of structure and routine is already taking its toll on their mental health as Childline reveals a ‘huge spike’ in the number of calls relating to coronavirus. ‘Lockdown’ life has proven a highly challenging time for children from abusive homes who view school and routine, friends, and family as their sanctuary. Ambassador for Neville Lawrence’s (father of Stephen Lawrence) organization, Violent Crime Prevention, Simpson is aiming to once again inspire and uplift young people by compiling footage from 6-21-year olds sharing their experiences from an honest and positive perspective. Now more than ever, Simpson is seeking to amplify the voices of the youth with his #OurLockdown campaign as young people navigate a challenging and unprecedented time.
‘My passion is young people and once the reality of lockdown kicked in, I really started to think about how our young people are coping during the coronavirus pandemic. There have been some massive lifestyle changes for them and whilst I hear lots on the news about school closures, homeschooling, and more, I’m yet to hear our young people speak on how they feel. My campaign will be comprised of film footage that gives young people the platform to be heard and counted.’
Amani Simpson was stabbed seven times when he intervened in a friend’s dispute over stolen goods that quickly escalated out of control and saw him confronted by a 20-strong gang. He lived to tell the story and to become one of London’s leading Youth Leaders.
After his attack and in the ambulance, he promised to himself and to God that he would help other young people at risk of getting caught up in violence and crime. “I believe in positive role models, the need for more BAME leaders. In the school I went to I wasn’t represented or understood. You need someone who is relatable to you. That’s why I like going into schools and colleges, empowering kids on the ground, because I can tell them I’ve been in your shoes, I know what it feels like to be you”.
Today, Amani runs Aviard Inspires which works with young people to help them develop careers in media and business as a real alternative to getting involved in crime. Aviard now uses 75% of its profits for projects that work directly with the community, such as going into colleges to speak to young people about working in the business. Amani has been featured on BBC London News, ITV News, London Live & in the Evening Standard. Now, after battling PTSD, he has rebuilt his life through a combination of youth leadership, social enterprise and personal development over the last 8 years, touring schools with film premieres and empowerment workshops.
Last week, Amani announced the #OurLockdown campaign, designed specifically to put young people’s voices at the forefront. The campaign involves leading and inspiring figures to serve as role models, whilst connecting young people with a global community of peers. The campaign is collating the diverse and uplifting experiences of 6-21-year olds from all over the world and is set to make waves as the first global campaign to put young people under the spotlight during the COVID:19 pandemic.
Written by Daniella Maison