Kits installed in Ilford to assist stab victims

A Redbridge mother whose son was jailed for stabbing someone hopes to save lives by installing cabinets with first aid equipment in Ilford.

Last month Cecilia Richu, 50, unveiled two cabinets with kits to control bleeding, allowing bystanders to help while waiting for an ambulance.

The public can access the cabinets using a code known to nearby shopkeepers and 999 call handlers, who will then give instructions on providing life saving treatment.

The two cabinets are located outside Champs Bar and Grill, 19-21 Chapel Road, and Simple Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, 241-243 Ilford High Road.

Cecilia, a nursing home care manager from Kenya, began campaigning against knife crime after one of her sons was jailed for an attack in 2018.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that she is partly motivated by that experience, after giving evidence in court that it was her own kitchen knife that was used.

Cecilia Richu

She added: “As a mother I thought that I had failed, as I was brought up in a very authoritarian society, my father was in the army, there was no messing about.

“Most mothers who have children in prison feel very bad inside, so they want to get it out, to get through this long drama… with the police coming [to their home] at 3 o’clock in the morning.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t happen to any other mum – you can’t imagine how quickly it happened – I saw those signs but I didn’t take action.

“When someone goes to prison you lose a child, although the other [person] is dead, these young people go to prison for a very long time and so many people who I work with have been stabbed and barely survived.”

After Cecilia’s son was sentenced in 2019 she set up non-profit Bin Knives Save Lives Redbridge, which works with the community, offers educational school visits and has knife amnesty bins.

She learned about “bleeding cabinets” from The Daniel Baird Foundation, which has been fundraising for the same kits in Birmingham since 2017.

The cabinets in Ilford have been funded through private donations and Cecilia is not asking the public for money as they “have enough on their plate”.

Redbridge Council’s leader Jas Athwal said he hopes they are never needed, because “we have to stop the crime happening the first place”

He added: “But these cabinets will stem the flow of blood in the first five minutes – making sure the person who is injured through a knife or accident has a chance to get through the first five minutes before the ambulance arrives.”

London Assembly member for Havering and Redbridge Keith Prince said: “It is a great shame that we now have a society where, especially in Redbridge, there are regular stabbings – that really is heartbreaking – unfortunately there is a need for this.”

The Metropolitan Police say driving down violent crime is a “top priority” and officers are using a range of tactics, from prevention and diversion to enforcement.

Compared to 2019/20, the Met’s figures show there has been a 17 per cent reduction in homicide this year and a 21 per cent reduction in knife crime by under 25-year-olds.

Martin Rolston, assistant commander for the Met’s East Area, which includes Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham and Havering, said: “We are wholly committed to a partnership approach to tackling violent crime, including violence against women and girls and antisocial behaviour.

“A new Ilford Town Centre Team is now in place working tirelessly with key partners to improve the town centre for residents, businesses and visitors.

“Across Redbridge during the school holidays you will see additional officers patrolling in the evenings as part of our Summer Nights campaign to provide reassurance to local residents.”

To learn more or contact Cecilia, visit: https://binknivessaveslivesredbridge.co.uk/

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter