Crowd gathers for rally against youth violence in Wolverhampton - with VIDEO and PICTURES
Crowds gathered in Wolverhampton for a rally against youth violence, organised by local people in an attempt to unite the community and highlight what they believe is a growing problem.
"When my son died it broke the family. Four years on I am still struggling." These were the words of a mother who had lost two of her sons, one in a car accident and one to a spell of imprisonment.
Audrey Reed stood in the rain in Wolverhampton city centre on Saturday and bravely told her story to a waiting crowd.
Her message came alongside a rally against youth violence.
Mrs Reed said: "My eldest son died four years ago this November, in a motorway accident. The accident happened because the driver fell asleep and my son died.
"It was painful and terrible but I've never felt bad towards the driver. When my son died it broke the family. But it also broke my other son.
"He ended up doing time in prison for six months, due to the stress and the strain.
"When I thought, I have one son who is dead and one in prison, I fell to the floor. My son suffered so much, his dreams died with his brother. They wanted to open a car wash together, but he ended up selling drugs."
One organiser of the rally, Donna Palmer, said the event had been organised to help young people understand there is a way out of violence.
She said: "I'm a citizen of Wolverhampton, and I'm so tired of losing our young people. What really sparked it for me was that young girl who died in West Park, she was only 14-years-old. It was so sad.
"We need this sort of opportunity, to talk about things like this."
Crowds gathered around the city'd 'Man on the Oss' to hear music and listen to inspiring messages and stories from families.
Just last month figures were revealed that showed violent crime across the Black Country has almost doubled in five years, while weapons possession has also rocketed.
The numbers, from the Office of National Statistics, show a trend across all four boroughs – Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall.
In Wolverhampton, the number of people caught with guns, knives and other weapons has rocketed by 91 per cent in the five-year period, with the figure going up by 20 per cent in the last 12 months alone.
There were 209 weapons possession offences in the year to March 2018, up from 173 at the same time last year. In 2013 the figure was 109.
And violent crime resulting in injury has also surged – with 2,360 offences recorded in the 12 months to March – up 132 per cent over five years.
Violent crime that does not result in injury – which includes online threats – has also risen sharply, up 132 per cent over five years from 1,014 to 2,360.
In June this year teenager Keelan Wilson was stabbed just yards from his home in Merry Hill, Wolverhampton in a late-night attack.
Twenty-four-year old Ryan Passey was also stabbed while at Chicago's nightclub in Stourbridge in August last year. His family said the court system was a 'joke' after 19-year-old Kobe Murray was cleared of his manslaughter.