Teens who put down knives tell their story on screens in UK's chicken shops

Bonnie Christian

When 15-year-old Jay Hughes was stabbed to death outside a Morley's chicken shop in south London last year, the chain's managing director felt he could no longer stay quiet on bloodshed in the capital.

"From a community standpoint it had a big impact and a sad impact," Shan Selvendran said.

Jay, also known as Jai Sewell, was stabbed in the heart outside Mr Selvendran's chicken shop in Bellingham on November 1.

The teenager, who was just 100 yards from his home, went inside the store for help but died in hospital three hours later.

Jay Hughes, also known as Jai Sewell, 15, was stabbed to death outside a Morely's chicken shop 100 yards from his home (Facebook)

"Its just scary and its just sad, the boy was just a little kid and he passed away, but there's other kids and there are all these other crimes going on, someone has got to do something," Mr Selvendran said.

Shortly after Jay was killed, Mr Selvendran approached All City Media Solutions to find out how to promote an anti-knife crime message in his shops.

In April, the #knifefree campaign was launched with the Home Office across digital screens in 13 Morley's stores, and in Chicken Cottage stores in Manchester, as well as on the inside of the shops' burger boxes.

The lids of the boxes features the stories of two young boys who have turned their lives around.

The campaign features on digital screens and burger boxes in chicken shops across the UK. (All City Media Solutions)

One of the boxes reads: "Sean's true story: Where I grew up there weren't a lot of opportunities. I had a big group of friends and we had trouble with people from other estates. Eventually I did start carrying a knife because I thought it would protect me.

"One day the older lads had a massive fight with this group from another estate. Someone was stabbed and killed and I knew I need to stop this now.

"I used to be into boxing. So I thought right, I'll go back to boxing."

It continues: "Boxing's taught me discipline and to focus on what's in front of me - training, school work, friends, family. It's completely changed my whole future."

The burger boxes feature the stories of young boys who have turned their lives around. (All City Media Solutions)

Mr Selvendren said that while he knows the campaign on its own is not going to fix knife crime, it is a small step towards promoting a positive community message.

"There are a large number of youngsters that come to our stores and buy our food," he said.

"Some of our locations are based in quiet residential areas as well as high streets so naturally we're very ingrained into the community."

He added: "I know a chicken box isn't going to change anything but the more people that jump on it and more people that want to get involved can only be a good thing.

"Again its a collective thing, its not one person or one entity doing one thing.

"If we can change one persons perspective, not saying that's a complete success but its something isn't it."

At least 26 people have been killed by knives in London so far this year.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has called the rise in street violence a “national emergency” that needs to be tackled in new ways, including a public-health approach.