Leon Edwards has been vocal in his fight against knife crime in the U.K., and it’s paid off.

In a program led by Edwards, middleweight contender Darren Till and Jimi Manuwa, the UFC will be partnering with Onside Legacy Youth Zone to launch a  youth mentoring program for kids aged 12-16 in London, Birmingham and Liverpool.

There’s been a recent surge in knife crime in England, with horrific incidents occurring in Edwards’ hometown of Birmingham last year. Edwards, who managed to avoid this environment by pivoting to martial arts at a young age, hopes the program is able to keep the youth off the streets and teach them self defense.

He explained how a conversation with Manuwa and Till lead to the initiative.

“Jimi and I spoke and we came from similar backgrounds,” Edwards told MMA Junkie ahead of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 187. “In the U.K., there’s a big knife pandemic, basically – loads of kids getting stabbed. And I came from the same background and he came to me and said we should do something. I said, yeah perfect. I was thinking of doing it anyway. So me, Jimi, Darren had a phone call. We said where can we take it, would the UFC be willing to do it? We spoke to the UFC, they said yes – 100 percent, they want to be involved.

“We’ve partnered up with Team Legacy. It’s a big organization in the U.K. for charity which is already doing it anyway with kids on probation, kids that are involved in knife crimes, and this is very close to me. I’ve lost a friend last year on Father’s Day. He got stabbed in his neck on Father’s Day, and you die. That pushed me more to want to be involved and to help change. We probably won’t be able to change the whole of the U.K., but if we can help change one kid’s life at a time, it would be perfect. So this partnership with Legacy will help hopefully save some kids’ lives.”

The UFC has donated more than $50,000 to help purchase equipment, pay coaches and raise awareness. Edwards, Till and Manuwa will be personally involved with the kids, serving as coaches.

“I’ll be there teaching martial arts. Jimi, Darren are all going to be there,” Edwards said. “My coaches are going to be there teaching martial arts. So it’s a close thing to my heart. It’s important to me, and I’m looking forward to it.

“Basically, (I’ll be) a mentor. I’ll be there on feet and ground teaching the classes, talking with the kids. The UFC is helping to provide kits for the kids, like gloves, shin pads. We’re also trying to do a scholarship kind of thing, which is the best kids in the class who listen. We’ve got something to work toward, so we can sponsor their gym membership for the year in one of our gyms, pay for their membership. Most kids can’t afford to pay £60 a month for a membership. I know I couldn’t when I was a kid. So if I could do that and pay their membership and help them, then that’s my involvement. If we can save one of them, I’m happy with that and that’s my main goal at the moment.”