Essex weapons awareness charity ‘absolutely thrilled’ with Home Office grant

Only Cowards Carry - led by Caroline Shearer - has received a grant to help with its work in Essex P

Only Cowards Carry - led by Caroline Shearer - has received a grant to help with its work in Essex Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The founder of an Essex weapons awareness charity says a government grant award of nearly £30,000 is “a massive boost” in the organisation’s fight against knife crime.

Caroline Shearer, from Clacton, set up Only Cowards Carry (OCC) six years ago after her son Jay Whiston, 17, was murdered at a Colchester house party in 2012.

The charity’s workshops have reached an estimated 40,000 children since it was launched.

OCC has now received nearly £30,000 from the Home Office for its ‘children under threat’ (CUT) project, which will visit 16 locations across Essex.

Recent statistics revealed the number of people caught with guns and knives in Colchester has almost doubled in the last year.

According to data from the Office of National Statistics released last month, there were 120 weapons possession offences recorded between April 2017 and March 2018 – up 93.5% on 2016-17, when 62 incidents were recorded.

Mrs Shearer said the statistics show the importance of weapons awareness workshops to people of all ages.

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“The project is like a travelling workshop,” she said.

“It’s open to children from 8-18, and also adults. What we are finding is that we are having adults come to us and say, ‘I want to learn’ so they can go back and teach their children.

“We had four sets of grandparents wanting to teach their grandchildren and that’s what it’s all about.

“We want to get the message out there about the dangers of knives and consequences knife crime can have on families.

“We’ll be visiting 16 locations in Essex but hope to go to a few more, there has been lots of interest.”

Mrs Shearer said the charity was delighted to receive the government grant to continue its work educating communities across Essex.

“We were absolutely thrilled,” she said.

“Especially as they had around 800 applications and only 60 were awarded.

“We are very lucky to be rewarded for the work we are doing and it’s a massive boost, particularly for my team who work so hard.

“The money will enable us to do more with communities and engage with more kids.”

To donate to OCC, visit the charity’s website at www.onlycowardscarry.org

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