In London, youth violence is an ever-growing problem that constantly and persistently seeks a solution. According to police figures, 41% of those arrested for knife crimes in the city are aged 15-19, with a further 8% of offenders being aged between just 10 and 14 years old. Year 11 students at Newstead Wood School, motivated by reducing the presence of knife crime in London, organise an annual event, all while celebrating their rich culture.


A Pinch of Spice is a yearly event that takes place every February, which not only donates its proceeds to JAGS Foundation, a charity that works to prevent youth violence, but commemorates the Afro-Caribbean culture with authentic food, fantastic performances and a fashion show. This year, the event took place on Thursday 13th February, acting as the perfect start to our half term. The atmosphere at Newstead Wood was buzzing days before the event, with students of all year groups excited to attend, to experience a night of talent, culture and entertainment. Songs and dances were performed by students and non-students and it is undeniable that every performance was thoroughly entertaining, completed with inspirational natural talent. The night’s finale, the long-awaited performance of guest star Hakkz, a rap artist from Dagenham, East London, who put on a brilliant set that was genuinely enjoyed by every one of the around two hundred people who attended A Pinch of Spice.


Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the evening was the fashion show, which featured garments designed and manufactured completely by students. Every model confidently walked the catwalk with poise and personality, and it was amazing to see the garments I had watched my friends create finally come together. Ava Pangare, who made four garments for the fashion show, said: “I just couldn’t believe we’d actually made all those clothes. Seeing the models wear the garments was so fulfilling to see that our lunchtimes weren’t wasted”. Not only was the committee talented at making clothes, but making food as well, since the buffet at A Pinch of Spice was utterly delicious, and varied, with dishes including jollof rice, chicken drumsticks and samosas, as well as vegetarian options.


It is undeniable that the hard work of the “APOS Committee” paid off- not only was the evening a huge success in terms of the attendees’ certain enjoyment, but hundreds of pounds was raised for JAGS Foundation. JAGS runs workshops raising awareness of the consequences of youth violence at schools and provides safe spaces and trauma services to families who have lost a child due to youth violence. The event was truly a fantastic evening with an even more fantastic cause, and I hope that A Pinch of Spice will continue to run at Newstead Wood School for many more years to come.