AS a teenager in South East London, Kwaku Duah-Asante grew up amongst gangs and knife crime.
But he didn’t fully appreciate the devastating impact that street violence can have on people’s lives until the day he received a shocking phone call while on the bus home from school.
Kwaku Duah-Asante wants young people to be empowered to act[/caption]
“A friend told me that my close friend’s cousin had been stabbed and killed,” Kwaku, now 22, says.
“We’d been out together just two weeks earlier, and he was part of a group of us who would play Xbox and go clubbing together.
“It was shocking and scary – knife crime had never touched my inner circle before, but for the first time, I was seeing someone I really cared about devastated by it.
“We went to my friend’s house and supported him as best we could, but the news was very difficult to hear – and it’s still difficult now.”
Eighteen months later, Kwaku was studying medicine at Imperial College London when he heard about StreetDoctors – a youth charity that helps those at risk of violence or gangs – and was motivated by his experiences to become a volunteer.
He says: “It was something I felt almost obliged to do.”
StreetDoctors’ network of young healthcare volunteers, including junior doctors, nurses and paramedics, teaches young people emergency, life-saving skills in cases where someone has been stabbed or knocked unconscious.
They also help tackle myths surrounding violence and demonstrate its realities, such as how much blood a person loses after being stabbed.
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How can you help?
By playing The National Lottery, you’re helping to raise £30million a week to support good causes like StreetDoctors, which is just one of over 6,000 health and wellbeing projects that received funding last year.
And The National Lottery is proud to sponsor The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards 2021, which shine a spotlight on all the amazing people who work in the health sector across the UK.
Lucie Russell, CEO of StreetDoctors, says: “We’re enabling young people affected by the violence to be part of the solution, instead of always being seen as part of the problem, and turning them from bystanders into first responders.
“Our volunteers are their peers – they’ve seen the consequences of violence and some, like Kwaku, also have their own lived experience.”
Making a difference: Kwaku is part of a network of young healthcare volunteers[/caption]
Thanks to National Lottery players, StreetDoctors has received £240,000 of funding, spread across three years, to pay for important services such as training their volunteers and delivering lifesaving skills to young people.
“Although we have 300 volunteers working in 17 cities, we have only eight staff, and we’re very reliant on funding,” says Lucie.
“The National Lottery funding has made an absolutely massive difference to us.
“The funding is going towards helping young people think through the consequences of violence and helping them to make more positive choices and save lives.”
As a volunteer, Kwaku has also found he’s become a role model for young people.
“A lot of the kids come from inner-city London. When they hear that somebody like me, who comes from a similar community, is going to medical school, they’re very surprised,” he says.
“When I see how much it motivates them, it motivates me too.
“With the help of National Lottery funding, I hope we can reach more corners of cities all over the country, to make sure as many young people as possible are informed and empowered to act, as well as seeing themselves in our volunteers and going on to do amazing things with their lives. There’s so much more they can go out and achieve.”
The National Lottery is a sponsor of The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards 2021.
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