Ditch the Blade: Former gang member who was stabbed in the eye launches anti-knife campaign
A former drug dealer and gang member from Stoke-on-Trent who was blinded when he was stabbed in the face has said he's seen a surge in young people being exploited into gangs over the summer holidays.
Mark Bracewell was knifed through the eye and nearly died in the horrific attack five years ago. Now, his message to young people is that if he had walked away from the situation, he'd still have his eye.
Before being stabbed, Mark also survived being kidnapped and shot, and he had to watch his friend die in front of him having been stabbed through the heart.
"I fell into gangs when I was suffering childhood trauma at home from domestic violence and sexual abuse."
"After prison I decided that I wanted to change, but it took time."
Mark's mission is to help young people affected by knife crime, and to prevent them from ending up on the same path he was on.
He started a mentoring company called Blinded Faith, and is part of the Ditch the Blade campaign by Staffordshire Police.
"We have a group of mentors that work with young people who are in danger of gangs and county lines or knife crime. We take them out to do activities whilst teaching them how to make the right decisions in life.
"We also have a find and retrieve service where we find children that are missing from home or involved in county lines. We go out, find them and bring them back home."
Mark hopes the Ditch the Blade campaign will get knives off the streets and ultimately save lives.
Blinded Faith have a 24 hour helpline for young people feeling vulnerable on the streets - 0800 156 0104