Hollyoaks IRL meets knife-campaigner Mark Bracewell from Manchester who was involved in a life changing incident that saw him stabbed and losing one of his eyes.
He has since dedicated his life to raising awareness of gang cultures and working to help young people escape it. Bracewell spent a day with Channel 4 filming with Richard Blackwood talking about his life before founding Blinded Faith a cause that helps change the lives of young people.
Reflecting on Mark’s story Richard Blackwood says: ‘If you want a reason to not get involved in the streets its right here…..’
Returning to his childhood home in #Mosside, Mark describes his early years and how he first witnessed a murder at the age of eleven.
He says: ‘I don’t feel good that I made it out of here but that I made it through life. Before you know it one of your best mates is getting stabbed or getting shot, they become your family. It’s a vicious circle.’
After serving a prison sentence for being part of an armed robbery Mark himself was attacked after trying to break up a fight, recounting the event he says: ‘he ran off and left me to die.’
He was later rushed to hospital. Waking up ‘in immense pain’ he said: ‘I just felt alone, and I felt scared and I had a lot of time to reflect on the decisions I had made in life and ultimately that decisions that put me in that bed.’
Discussing their shared experiences Richard says: ‘I grew up around knife crime and I was lucky I came out unscathed, but I know people that didn’t.’
Discussing his ‘choices’ Mark tells Richard he had ‘no aspirations’, adding: ‘Words are a powerful thing and when you are told you’re no good and you aint gonna be anything eventually you think, this is what I know this is what I know and I’m gonna do….even though you know the risks and the chance….you might die.’
Mark now works closely within communities to help young people find a future outside of gangs.
Richard adds: ‘I don’t want people to think that we are condoning the behaviour, we’re not, what we’re saying is these same kids that we are pointing the finger at, they’ve got the mentality that you point them in the right setting could be entrepreneurs.’
Mark co-founded an organisation called Blinded Faith, mentoring at-risk children in the local authority.
He says: “I want to see that everyone has equal opportunities and a chance to make it in the life and off the streets.
‘It’s never too late to change, you can be all you are meant to be. It doesn’t matter what mistakes you have made in the past. You are all saviours in the making.’
Hollyoaks: IRL is a web series exploring the real-life impact generated by storylines seen in Hollyoaks. Head over to the Hollyoaks social channels to watch the video….