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Millionaire businessman launches his own campaign to combat knife crime

A millionaire businessman is launching his own campaign to try and combat knife crime on the streets.

Henry Smith, 56, said he believed he could offer teenagers an alternative to joining gangs and stop them becoming involved in drug running and violence.

Mr Smith, who was born in the East End, has just founded The Wickers Charity, based in East London, which provides a hub for young people aged eight to 18 to attend after school and during the holidays.

He said that he was shocked when he saw figures which showed at least 51 people have been fatally stabbed on the capital’s streets since the beginning of the year.

‘When people ask me what I’m trying to achieve here, I tell them if I can save just one life then it will all be worth it,’ added Mr Smith, the CEO of property company, Aitch Group.

He has experienced first-hand the impact knife crime can have

He said: 'The East End has always been a part of my life and for me'

He said: ‘The East End has always been a part of my life and for me’

He has experienced first-hand the impact knife crime can have on a family after his brother-in law was stabbed to death outside a takeaway in Stratford, leaving behind his young daughter and pregnant wife, Maxine. 

Henry’s sister never fully recovered from the shock and after struggling to cope afterwards tragically died in a car accident.

‘It makes you think about how precious life is and how it needs to be protected’, said Henry.

That experience stayed with him and Henry found himself in the position to make a real and positive change with The Wickers Charity.

With no real formal education and brought up from an underprivileged background, Henry strived to put money on the table for his family, doing paper and milk rounds to make ends meet.

After a short spell in the Marines as a teenager, he worked in sales and then in rental property, finally getting himself on the property ladder and he has never looked back since.

He even moved back from Knightsbridge with his family a few years ago to his roots because he found it so soulless. 

He said: ‘The East End has always been a part of my life and for me, being able to provide homes and employment opportunities in the area that I grew up in is something that I am really proud of and I’d been waiting for an opportunity to do more.

‘With our charity work we’re showing people there is a better way to life, giving them that re-direction. I can see a difference already we’re making in the community. 

‘The hub is a safe haven and kids are taking on the advice but this is just the start.’

Entrepreneur Henry has various business interests, ranging from property development, finance, and recruitment and it’s not all been plain sailing. 

Banks called in loans forcing him to sell properties at a loss and he once invested in a pay day loan company which went bust, costing him several millions of pounds. The company failed to repay the full £34million to clients, leaving some out-of-pocket.

He admitted: ‘I wholly regret my decision but learned due diligence and to check more studiously in future.’

Now he is concentrating on helping underprivileged youth in Hackney. 

He insisted: ‘I don’t want kids to be influenced by older people, to think that going out and running drugs or stealing something is okay just to get the latest pair of trainers or a new tracksuit. 

‘The Wickers Charity is showing them that there’s another way, the proper way to earn money. 

‘Some kids might not know any better but we are showing them there are other avenues. One of the kids we took to summer camp was a 12-year-old boy who had never been swimming before but had lived in London all his life. 

‘That really surprised me so we are taking them out to show them there’s more to life than hanging around street corners.’

The impetus for the charity came about after Henry met with reformed gang member Bobby Kasanga, 30, who founded Hackney Wick Football Club as a means of keeping young adults off the streets.

Henry has sponsored the club, which has several teams, including a semi- pro side for the last two years. 

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan recognised the great work it has been doing by awarding the club £10,000 for a ‘Street Tekkers’ programme to continue during the school holidays.

Henry added: ‘After a year I realised I wanted to do more to help the kids and this all lead to the concept of The Wickers Charity. 

Now we have a centre where kids can go after school and enjoy a whole host of activities – this summer we have had outings to Chessington World of Adventures and Sea World.’

With the school year about to start, a whole range of new classes have been planned. 

To date, they’ve held workshops on the dangers of gang crime, hosted inspirational speakers, as well as run graphic design, cookery and music production classes. 

The aim is to host any classes that help young people to achieve their own individual learning plans.

Entrepreneur Henry who has various business interests ranging from property development, finance, and recruitment, insisted: 

‘I don’t want kids to be influenced by older people, to think that going out and running drugs or stealing something is okay just to get the latest pair of trainers or a new tracksuit. 

The Wickers Charity is showing them that there’s another way, the proper way to earn money. Some kids might not know any better but we are showing them there are other avenues. 

One of the kids we took to summer camp was a 12-year-old boy who had never been swimming before but had lived in London all his life. 

‘That really surprised me so we are taking them out to show them there’s more to life than hanging around street corners.’

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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