AN anti-gang organisation founded to promote peace in Birmingham has been set on the road to national success after a Midland accountant helped it to get charitable status.
Save a Young Life Everyday (SAYLE) was formed by Birmingham musician Bobby Woods with the aim of reducing gang-related violence and deaths in Birmingham, Coventry and the surrounding areas.
The organisation’s charitable status will now enable Woods to look for volunteers and support as he aims to spread SAYLE’s message across the Midlands and beyond.
Mark Ashfield, a director with Leamington-based accountants Harrison, Beale and Owen became involved with the charity after being introduced to Bobby through a mutual friend. He agreed to dedicate some of his spare time to helping with the charity’s finances.
Mr Ashfield said: “It’s important for people from all walks of life to be aware of the problems that are prevalent in society and to do what they can to help.
“The passion Bobby has for this project is clear for anyone to see and I’m delighted to be able to support him.”
Another person to join SAYLE’s fight against street violence is Arthur Ellis, the father of murdered 18-year-old Charlene Ellis. Charlene and her friend Letisha Shakespeare, 17, died in a hail of bullets during a drive-by shooting in Aston, Birmingham.
Arthur said: “Everyone has the right to live and the right not to live in fear – the right not to fear being shot for living in a particular postcode.
“I lost my daughter because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s important to educate people – violence is not the answer.”
Bobby, who lost his nephew as a result of a fatal knife attack in London, said: “We must try and end the violence that has become a part of life for so many.
“We have become a throw-away society but we must remind people that a life is not something to be thrown away.
“Life is not about drugs, knives and guns – the value of a life needs to be resurrected.”
The former school counsellor now pays regular visits to schools in Coventry and Birmingham with SAYLE in a bid to educate youngsters about the consequences of violent crime in the hope of reducing it. The charity also offers support to the families of victims and visits past offenders in prison in a bid to stop reoffending.