Using the Iconic Status of Charlton Athletic to Combat Knife Crime

Using the Iconic Status of Charlton Athletic to Combat Knife Crime and Street Violence in South London and Kent

Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London)
Medawar Building,
Malet Place (off Torrington Place),
London WC1
Thursday 27th October  2011 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

Speakers: Nick Davill, Sally Knox, Steve Sutherland


In this seminar three representatives from the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) explain how the iconic status of a football club, Charlton Athletic, can be utilised to address a pressing social problem – knife crime and street violence – which has wreaked untold tragedy and devastation on so many families and communities across London in recent years, through the CACT Street Violence Ruins Lives (SVRL) campaign and the CACT Crime Reduction Programme. In particular Birkbeck would like to welcome as part of the CACT speaker team, Mrs Sally Knox, mother of actor Rob Knox who was tragically stabbed to death in Sidcup, South London in 2008. Sally, and Rob’s father Colin, founded the Rob Knox Foundation in honour of their son Rob, and through the Foundation have since worked closely with CACT as tireless and courageous campaigners to educate young people about the scourge of knife crime.

Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT)

Charlton Athletic Football Club is widely acknowledged within the football industry as being amongst the leading pioneer clubs in English football which have used the power of football, in Charlton’s case through the associated but independent charitable organisation the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT), to work in partnership with local communities to empower individuals to improve their lives and their environment. The community programme at Charlton Athletic Football Club was established in 1992, when Charlton returned to their South-East London home at the Valley. The Charlton Athletic Community Trust became a separate institution in 2003. Affectionately known as CACT, it is famed for its work in both its local communities as well as in South Africa. The community programme started with just one member of staff, a bag of footballs and a telephone and has now grown into an organisation that employs 37 full time staff and 139 casual coaches and engages with approximately 7,500 young people on a weekly basis.

CACTs ground-breaking and innovative programmes are delivered through a regular presence in schools, and working with disadvantaged or socially excluded groups in society, through crime reduction initiatives and community based football coaching sessions. The types of programmes delivered by CACT fit under five key aims; raising education achievement, creating pathways to employment, building healthier lifestyles, bringing communities together and reducing crime.

The Street Violence Ruins Lives (SVRL) Campaign

In recent times knife-related violence has become a scourge across London. The problem was thrown into sharp relief in 2008 when the young actor Rob Knox was tragically stabbed to death in Sidcup. Rob’s murder became the catalyst for the CACT’s Street Violence Ruins Lives (SVRL) campaign. Rob’s mother Sally became a member of the campaign’s committee, through which she has worked tirelessly with CACT to raise awareness of the futility of knife crime and the devastation it leaves in its wake for the far too many families and communities affected.

The Street Violence Ruins Lives (SVRL) campaign raised awareness of the serious issue of weapons related violence amongst young people through the experiences of the Knox family and the tragic loss of their son Rob. The SVRL programme, which was launched live on Sky Sports at the match versus Reading in 2008, saw the innovation of the SVRL logo being worn on the sleeves of the Charlton players. A year later saw the unprecedented situation where both Club sponsors agreed to Charlton and Millwall wearing the SVRL logo on the fronts of the players’ shirts at the match between the two sides played at The Valley.

CACT Crime Reduction Programme

The CACT Crime Reduction Programme was born from this campaign and it saw the appointment of the Country’s very first Crime Reduction Manager. Working across the London Boroughs of Greenwich and Bexley, both with the perpetrators and also the victims of crime, most specifically youth crime. The Crime Reduction Manager and his support Officer are both based 2 days per week at Belvedere Police Station. The Crime Reduction Manager is a former police officer with 30 years service, 15 of which were specialised in community and youth policing.

The programme works at three levels; through awareness programmes within schools and on estates based provision – with young people identified as being involved or at risk of becoming involved in crime, violence and radicalisation – and specialist work with repeat offenders who are at risk of custodial sentences or who have received a sentence but are released on licence. ACT are a lead partner within The U Turn Project. The U Turn 1 Project works with 16 of the most ‘ at risk’ young people in Bexley and our Crime Reduction Programme continues to engage, support and challenge the young people selected to attend. In Bexley the programme also includes a distinct project of support with the victims of anti social behaviour and also a targeted programme with young people at risk of radicalisation into extreme behaviour. This programme is the first one of its kind delivered by a football club community programme in the country, and may be adopted as a model of best practice by other clubs.




Crime Reduction Manager

In September 2010 Nick Darvill was appointed as The Crime Reduction Manager at Charlton Athletic Community Trust, he was formally a Police Officer with the Metropolitan Police Service with a career spanning 32 years.

Prior to his departure from The Police Service he was a member of the award winning Kickz Management Team where his specialist skills in dealing with young people at risk were used to enhance the delivery of this football based diversionary project. Nick is also a holder of the UEFA ‘A’ Coaching Licence and a member of the coaching staff at Charlton Athletic Youth Academy.

His role at Charlton Athletic Community Trust is the first of its kind in The Premiership and Football League and explores new territory in terms of how professional football clubs engage with some of the hardest to reach young people. The Crime Reduction Programme engages young people at an early intervention stage as well as young adults in a custodial setting, encompassing the entire spectrum of the criminal justice system.


Sally and Colin Knox set up the Rob Knox Foundation in 2008 following the tragic death of their son Rob, who was murdered in Sidcup, Kent. Rob Knox was a talented actor and he portrayed Marcus Belby in the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The Foundation aims to raise money that will be used to help campaign against street violence and knife and gun crime.

In August 2008 the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) also launched a new initiative, known as the Street Violence Ruins Lives (SVRL) campaign, to tackle street violence on the estates of Greenwich, Bexley and Kent, and has been working closely with the Rob Knox Foundation ever since. CACT’S partnership with the Rob Knox Foundation has led to Sally Knox joining CACT’s ranks where she delivers sessions in schools for the Knife Possession Prevention Programme. Sally helps to educate youngsters against gangs and knife crime and steer their attention towards other activities. She speaks to young people in schools, as well as identified knife carriers, and details how she has grown from her own experiences.

Sally Knox reflected on her new role, ‘I am so pleased to be working with the Charlton Athletic Community Trust life coaching team. The work they do with young people is so impactful and to work alongside the team in such effective projects is an honour’.

Nick Darvill, CACT’s Crime Reduction Manager, said, ‘It was a natural progression of our work to invite Sally to join The Trust, we have been working closely together since Rob’s murder and she will add immense value to our programme. Her live testimony to young people carries great impact – it stops young people in their tracks when they listen to Sally. We are helping young offenders make better decisions on the streets, think about their actions and the consequences of carrying a knife’.


Trust Ambassador

After a 15 year career with the Midland Bank, Steve spent three years as Charlton Athletic FC’s Commercial Manager in the late 1980’s – when the club was based at Selhurst Park. After Charlton, Steve spent eight years as the Marketing Executive of The Football League and a further season as Commercial Director and Joint Chief Executive of Swindon Town Football Club. He returned to Charlton Athletic in January 2000 as Assistant to the CEO with responsibility for business development. Steve was appointed Commercial Director in October 2006.

During his tenure as Commercial Director of Charlton Athletic FC Steve was widely acknowledged as being one the key architects of possibly the most innovative CSR programme of any English football club; notably in helping to establish the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) on the back of the Club’s highly successful ‘Football in the Community’ Programme.

Having left Charlton Athletic in May 2009 to develop a business as a freelance sports marketing consultant; Steve retains his links with Charlton through his brokerage of the Club’s shirt sponsorship deal with the Kent Reliance Building Society and via his role as an Ambassador of the Charlton Athletic Community Trust. Steve is Chairman of CACT’S Women’s and Girls’ Football Committee and Chairman and co-founder of CACT’s ground-breaking Street Violence Ruins Lives Committee.

Charlton Athletic has a proud history of developing projects that can deliver positive messages, that are sustainable, and that demonstrate real and positive social impact whilst assisting the club to build its fan base. Steve is firm in his belief that football clubs have a duty to try to make a meaningful contribution to the community from which they draw their support

Apart from Charlton Athletic and Charlton Athletic Community Trust, Steve’s clients now include The London Borough of Greenwich and The British Amateur Boxing Association. Steve is a member of the Commercial Strategy Group for Demelza Children’s Hospice, he is a Governor of Conway Primary School in Plumstead and he is a Trustee of Greenwich Council’s ‘Starting Blocks’ Charity which financially supports talented young Greenwich- based athletes.

Contact Details

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763

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