Knife Angel arrives in Worcester with message of hope
The Knife Angel, the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression, will be in Worcester for the month of March 2022, to spread its message of hope for social change.
The imposing 27ft-tall statue has been created from over 100,000 knives and blades confiscated by 43 UK police forces. It was designed by Alfie Bradley at the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, with the aim of bringing the issue of knife crime to the front of society's consciousness.
The Knife Angel will be in Cathedral Square 1-31 March, with an official launch on 2 March, and will be the focus for a programme of activity for all ages, aimed at achieving greater awareness of the impact of violence and aggression.
A knife amnesty will also take place, with anyone who carries a knife able to dispose of it in an amnesty box positioned next to the angel, with no questions asked and no fear of reprisals. The amnesty box will be locked and protected by 24/7 security.
The Knife Angel has been brought to the city by Worcester City Council and the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, with support from Ringway, acting on behalf of Worcestershire County Council. Cathedral Square have also donated facilities free-of-charge.
Cllr Marc Bayliss, Leader of Worcester City Council, said: "The Knife Angel will become the focus for a city-wide conversation about violence, aggression and knife crime while it is in Worcester.
"It is easy to think that violence is something that happens in other places, but the most commonly reported types of crimes in our city involve threats of violence without injury. This is an opportunity for schools, colleges and community groups to hear from people who have experienced violence first-hand and for all of us to rise to the challenge of driving violence and aggression out of our lives."
West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: "Knife crime is a cultural issue that we need to tackle as a society. As Commissioner I am committed to playing my part in this societal change. This means tackling crime at the root through education, prevention and ensuring the police are well resourced for enforcement.
"The Knife Angel is iconic and continues to make an impact, particularly with the workshops and preventative work linked to its arrival. We are all aware of the devastating impact of knife crime and having this clear visual reminder will play another part in helping to keep our communities safe."
Supt Rebecca Love, West Mercia Police Superintendent for Worcester & South Worcestershire, said: "A priority for all our officers and staff in Worcester is to protect people from harm and reduce the instances of knife-related crime. Hosting the Knife Angel in Worcester will help highlight the issue and the continuing work with our partners and communities to prevent knife crime and to keep people safe.
"In an effort to deter young people from becoming involved in a knife culture, West Mercia Police are regularly engaged with young people in schools and colleges and early prevention projects such as the Steer Clear Programme. This is an intelligence-led project aimed at young people under the age of 18 who are believed to be on the periphery of knife-related crime and the aims are to safeguard and prevent the criminalisation of young people."
Clive Knowles, Chairman & Founder of the British Ironwork Centre, said: "We are extremely proud of Worcester's determined stance against violence, not only hosting the Knife Angel and undertaking 30 days of intensive youth anti-violence education, but additionally joining the National Anti-Violence City Charter Programme, which commits all cities to increase their educational efforts, in reducing all forms of violence throughout their communities."
Throughout the month Worcester City Council's Community Safety and Youth Intervention Team will be on hand in Cathedral Square to raise awareness of community safety in the city.
They will be joined across the month by several other organisations who work with the South Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership.
Worcester Cathedral will also host a month-long programme of workshops for 22 local schools in their new Undercroft Learning Centre, aimed at giving pupils a better understanding of the Knife Angel's message. This will include sessions with NHS CAMHS (Child And Adolescent Mental Health Services).
Daniel Parnell, Director of Learning and Community Involvement at Worcester Cathedral, said: "The vision of the project to redevelop the Undercroft into a Learning Centre is to create a place available for the community of Worcester to learn together. Therefore, it is a fulfilment of this vision to host sessions supporting the Knife Angel's objective to create social change and raise awareness of the effects of violent crime.
"The Cathedral will also be providing an opportunity for the whole community to engage with the Knife Angel through space for prayer and reflection and through our memorial service towards the end of the month."
The Knife Angel will also be the focus for a special Youth Day on Saturday 19 March, running from midday to 4pm. The afternoon will be packed full of activities to help young people, families and passers-by engage with the issues of knife crime, violence and aggression. Giant jenga, virtual reality, music and a live performance by local knife crime and mental health campaigner Kate Dowdeswell will be among the attractions.
At the end of the month a special gathering will take place at 6pm on Wednesday 30 March in Cathedral Square to remember all the lives lost nationwide to knife crime. Everyone will be welcome to join this moving moment, which will last for around 15 minutes.
The Knife Angel has previously visited a number of prominent UK cities and landmarks including Chester, Coventry, Liverpool, Birmingham, Hereford and Telford & Wrekin.