Across several sessions at Dearne Valley College, international Guest Speaker Paul Hannaford has provided thought-provoking talks to learners highlighting how easy it can be to fall into a life of crime and how it destroys lives.
Drawing from his real-life past experience as a gang member and drug addict, Paul described how this took his dream career as a footballer away from him in addition to his friends, family and freedom.
Paul said: “There’s concern about the issues on our streets these days, especially County Lines, getting involved with gangs, selling drugs, carrying knives and using them on people.
“I’m here today to share information on all the dangers of going down the path I took in my past. Hopefully after today, we’ve done enough to ensure learners at Dearne Valley College are aware of these issues to enable them to have a bright future.
“I’ve given speeches to 400,000 learners so far. In hindsight with the crime that’s happening on the streets everyone deserves these talks to get that bit of exposure on how easy it can be to go down a slippery slope to throwing your life away.”
Dearne Valley College Assistant Principal, Cheryl Martin, attended the talks. Cheryl remarked: “I’m delighted Paul could once again visit Dearne Valley College to speak to learners about issues surrounding county lines, gangs, knife crime and drugs and the significant effect all of these can have on your life.
It is part of our efforts to ensure that the young people who study with us are aware of these issues and the local context that surrounds them.
“Paul’s a massive help because a lot of the issues he talks about are drawn from his real-life experience; it makes it easier for our learners to relate to his message and the perils of getting involved in crime which include prison sentences, losing your friends, family and your health.”
Paul added: “Dearne Valley College should be proud to address these issues with their learners. I know for a fact there’s only a minimal proportion of education providers being proactive and getting somebody in to speak to them, so this is safeguarding to a very high standard.
“There’s been a massive rise in knife crime across the UK. I visit prisons and speak to murderers and attackers. I ask them ‘did you have a talk about knife crime when you were young?’ and the answer is always no. Attending a talk like this one today gives young people the chance to see the dangers of gangs, drugs and knife crime.
“If we stop one person from entertaining the idea of joining a gang or picking up a knife then we’ve done our job.”
Find out more about County Lines and Paul’s inspirational talks.