Meet Eliza, Founder of Lives Not Knives


By - Wednesday 5th March, 2014

Becca Taylor introduces Eliza Rebeiro and explains how she and Lives Not Knives are combating youth violence in Croydon


Image by Lives Not Knives. Used with permission.

The recent news of six stabbings in ten days, with the youngest victim being just 12 years old, sent shockwaves across Croydon, and no doubt brought back memories for Lives Not Knives team Eliza Rebeiro and her mum, Monique. Expelled from school as a young teen, Eliza set up the charity when she realised that it wasn’t normal to see knife violence on a regular basis. Six years on, and with an award to her name, Eliza’s team operates from a slick new unit on the top floor of Croydon’s Centrale building.

But work for the brave pair isn’t easy. With funding cut in recent years, the school workshops and preventative programmes are fighting for attention as they raise the money to keep the charity going too.

“We do as much as we can with the resources we have, but we are entirely self-funded now.” Eliza says.

“Schools are demanding workshops but we can’t carry out as many as we were able to when we first started out.”

Image by Lives Not Knives. Used with permission.

The LNK volunteers and youth workers are different to other agencies working in London. Every member who carries out a workshop has been affected by knife crime and violence themselves. They tell their stories at the beginning of each session, empathising with the things that young people may find themselves caught up in. Each of them is also trained in anger management and behavioural issues, and many have also had training with Rape Crisis, to deliver sex and relationship workshops.

“Without the programmes we can offer, school kids aren’t going to learn about respecting or looking after one another from people they can relate to.

“We’re having requests from primary schools to run workshops with children as young as 7, but without enough funding, we can’t physically manage it.”

Though their roadshow work may be more difficult, operating the unit in the centre of Croydon has allowed them to branch out in new and diverse ways. The team, led by Monique, has written its own work-ready programme, and has already seen eight successfully go through it, with another eight now on their journey into or back to work.

“Of the first eight, two went back to higher education, three got full-time jobs and three were taken on as apprentices.

“We take them through CV writing, interview skills and personal branding over the six week scheme. They also get at least a week’s work experience in their chosen field as well as access to a huge database of jobs across Croydon.”

Image by Lives Not Knives. Used with permission.

Budding journalist Shaniqua is looking for vacancies and opportunities through the work-ready programme. She dreamed of being a fashion designer as a kid, but is now passionate about making it in journalism.

“I was really dubious when I first came to the programme, but I’m glad I did it now.

“It’s really helped to boost my confidence – when I decided on a career change, it really knocked my confidence, but coming here helped me with that. I’m getting opportunities I would never have heard of before.”

Other young hopefuls include Dylan, who’s fresh from an interview after a trial night shift the evening before. His determination to find work will see him take the train up to Oxford Street the next day, to hand a CV directly to the manager of Zara.

And on top of their day to day work, Lives Not Knives members are running open mics for talented young people who can’t perform in bars, setting up pop-up shops for designers to sell their wares, and skydiving to raise more money for their projects.

Without widespread preventative work, Croydon may face the same tragedy of young lives lost to knife crime once again. LNK is making a genuine difference to young people and their families across Croydon and the rest of London, and it is vital to rally behind them.

Becca Taylor

Becca Taylor

Becca is a newcomer to South London, currently living in Sutton and working in Purley, as ICUK.net's Head of Marketing. She has a background in politics and journalism, and is slowly learning the ropes in the tech world. A graduate of Swansea University, Becca is also a keen fitness enthusiast and a proud fan of Southampton FC.

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  • David White

    This is really inspiring. Well done to all involved.