A former church youth leader has taken his extensive experience in youth work, along with some of the issues faced by teenagers, to the big screen.
Leo Powell, who’s now a Head of Year and County Lines trainer, produced a film called Step Back, which highlights the consequences of knife crime.
The short film follows a 16-year-old boy named Marcus, or his tag name “Legs” (played by Xavien Russell) who, after attempting to steal trainers on his 16th Birthday, is confronted by a shop assistant where an altercation breaks out and Marcus stabs the assistant, fleeing and unknowingly leaving him to die.
Marcus is found guilty of murder and is sent to prison and whilst in prison is stabbed as an act of revenge for the shop assistant he killed.
Now Marcus finds himself fighting for his life, but as he takes his last breath, he suddenly opens his eyes and realises that he is not dead, but instead has woken up in his bedroom one year earlier as a 15-year-old boy with a second chance at life.
"I’m hoping this film can be another avenue where seeds of hope can be sown into the hearts of young people." Powell said.
"That will change the trajectory of their lives and give them a positive hope for the future."
The idea for the film came from his decade worth of work with young people. Powell began his work with youth as a volunteer as youth leader for Jubilee Church London in Enfield. Over the years, he has pastorally supported and mentored numerous young people, and is considered a positive and influential role model within a church context and the community of Enfield.
Powell’s current work in the area of Country Lines has gained huge traction, and he has developed a comprehensive training programme that he delivers in primary and secondary schools, organisations and churches.
On 30th of January, a small group of MPs and members of the Metropolitan Police attended the first virtual screening of Step Back and got their full support.
Detective Chief Superintendent Treena Fleming, Commander of Haringey and Enfield, said:"This video is a powerful reminder of the tragic consequences of carrying a knife- both for the victim and perpetrator. We want people to watch Step Back and understand that being involved in gangs and arming yourself with a knife quite literally ruins lives."
She added: "Any resource which highlights the stark reality of knife crime and raises awareness can only be a positive, and we hope this film resonates with our youngsters and drives them to make more informed life choices.
"We will be working closely with Leo… to identify opportunities for the film to be used during workshops to help draw out vital conversations about knife crime."
Powell said he hopes to screen the film in schools around the country as a deterrent to young people against using a knife.
Step Back, premiered for the public on Saturday, and is now available via Million Youth Media’s YouTube Channel.