My loving son was stabbed in an unprovoked attack and now my personal tragedy is your national emergency

That’s what Alison Cope was faced with six years ago, when her 18-year-old son, Joshua Ribera, was stabbed through the heart outside a Birmingham nightclub.

In a cruel twist of fate, the caring teenager and rising grime MC – who wrote songs about his love of his mum and grandmother – was there to perform at a fundraising event to honour a young man who had been stabbed to death one year earlier.

His killer, Armani Mitchell, also just an 18 year old boy, attacked Joshua due to jealousy over a girl.

Recalling the heart wrenching moment she left her only son at the morgue, Alison recalled, “I got home and sat on the kitchen floor and screamed and screamed from my heart.

“I screamed so much that my family took me to the doctor. The rest is a blur.”

Yet Alison’s nightmare is being lived by more and more families as reports of knife crime – and the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales – are the highest they've ever been .

Knife crime is terrorism on our streets

Mitchell is currently serving a life sentence for murder with a minimum of 18 years behind bars.

Since the attack Alison has dedicates her life teaching children in schools across the country about the consequences knife crime has on families and communities.

Here, she tells us her thoughts on why she’s angry with the Government’s handling of the UK’s major knife crime problem.

“Theresa May has said she doesn’t believe there’s a link with reducing police and knife crime – but I believe our politicians are ignorantly detaching themselves from the situation, because they haven’t been directly affected themselves.

“If you took every person who has been killed in the last few years by knife crime, and put them in Wembley stadium and blew them up with a bomb, can you imagine what the Government’s reaction would be?

"Hundreds of children blown up in an act of terrorism – because that’s what knife crime is: terrorism on our streets.

“I have spoken to thousands and thousands of children in the UK – and they are scared.
“But what are our politicians doing?

“While the Government have given some funding to useless campaigns, the problem is not being targeted at the root.

“For example, the Home Office campaign, #knifefree, made no difference.

"Campaigners, including myself, told officials it wouldn’t work but they did it anyway – because political campaigns like this are simply a token to make them look like they’re trying.
“The campaign was based on putting posters and leaflets up in cities, with a hashtag.

"But did they really believe a 14 year old boy living in an environment of poverty – in a struggling family and with no support or sign of police – is going to ride their bike past a poster saying ‘#knifefree’ and think: ‘Oh yes, that will resolve the environment I’m living in. That poster tells me to drop my knife, so I best do it.’

“If it was that easy to solve a problem with a slogan, there would be no issues with drugs, alcohol, teenage pregnancies or people smoking. It would be ideal if it did work, because it would solve the world’s problems!

“I’ve personally, as well as groups of campaigners, tried guiding politicians on effective ways to help, and where to benefit funding, but they’re not interested in listening.

“I’ve had no support from the Government, even though I’ve dedicated the past five years to helping young people against knife crime. I had meetings with the Home Office to say how they could improve the situation, but it was ignored.

“Funding needs to be put into speakers going into schools to communicate with these youngsters, we need more support workers and more police."

'Our politicians are just standing on a box – then go home to their nice lives'

Following May's comments that the rise in knife crime and the cut in policing had "no direct correlation" Met Police commissioner, Cressida Dick, hit back agreeing with Alison.

Speaking to LBC Radio the top police office said there is "some link" between falling police numbers and a rise in violent crime.

It comes after two 17-year-olds were killed in separate stabbings in London and Greater Manchester at the weekend.

Ms Dick told the talkshow the deaths show "how big of a challenge this is" and that it is not a London-only issue.

But Alison says a more direct approach is needed rather than endless talks.

“I speak to children on a personal level, and get through to them by asking them to imagine their families being torn apart, and imagine their mum being heartbroken at losing her child, " she adds.

“I work 14 hour days. I’m exhausted, but I get up and do it all again the next day, all around the country, to target the problem at the core and help these youngsters.

“Whereas our politicians are just standing on a box, saying what they’ve got to say and then going home to their nice lives. They aren’t living it directly, so they can detach themselves.

“Knife crime needs to be declared as a national state of emergency. The country is living in a heightened state of terror – if you ask kids if they’re more scared of being stabbed or blown up, they’ll say stabbed.

“But terrorism is political, so that’s prioritised. Politics is killing our children. When it comes to knife crime, what we have seen is all words and no action.

“Knife crimes have been portrayed as being associated with black youths and gangs. This isn’t the reality though, and the stabbing of Jodie Chesney has ripped through people more than ever – she was white, and a female.
“I am asked to speak to children at private schools, rural schools, Catholic schools – they know their children are at risk, so now it’s time the Government wise up to it, too.”

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