An open invitation is being shared to a candle-lit peace vigil on Thursday 4 November to mark the start of the Knife Angel Lancashire education programme.
Created by the British Ironwork Centre, the Knife Angel is a national monument built to inspire change. Acting as a catalyst for dialogue, education and reflection, the Knife Angel highlights the devastating impact this type of violent crime can have on individuals, families and communities.
The Knife Angel will be in position outside Blackburn Cathedral from 4 to 29 November.
The 27 feet tall sculpture, made from 100,000 seized knives and blades, brings with it a month-long knife crime awareness and education programme. Already a range of school and community groups from across Lancashire have booked onto the free activities.
Andrew Snowden, Police & Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, commented:
“Knife crime affects entire communities, not just the individuals who carry knives and those who, sadly, use them. This peace vigil is particularly poignant in light of recent events and is an opportunity for all our communities to stand together in solidarity against violent crime of this nature, and to commit to do whatever we can to deter our loved ones from carrying knives.
“A knife box will be sited next to the Knife Angel and I encourage anyone who carries a knife to surrender their blade. My message to anyone thinking of carrying a knife is simple. Don’t do it. You are so much more likely to become a victim yourself and the potential to cause serious injury is huge, even if you don’t intend to. More than that, carrying an offensive weapon is a serious offence and our officers are out there to take action and deal with offenders robustly.”
Det Ch Supt Sue Clarke, Head of the Lancashire Violence Reduction Network, said:
“The education programme has a focus on prevention – how we can all play a part in raising awareness of knife crime and deterring our loved ones from getting involved.
“We are determined to make the most of the opportunities the Knife Angel brings, to engage our local communities in discussions about the devastating impacts of knife and violent crime. I would urge everyone in the county to visit the Knife Angel Lancashire website to find out how they can get involved during November.”
The peace vigil on Thursday 4 November, starting at 5.45pm, will include statements from interfaith representatives, committing to work together for peace.
Following an official welcome by the Leader of Blackburn with Darwen, Coun Mohammed Khan CBE, the Knife Angel sculpture will be revealed in its temporary position in Blackburn’s Cathedral Square (at the rear of the cathedral).
Candles will be available to anyone who would like to attend the peace vigil, an act of remembrance for anyone in Lancashire, including those who have lost loved ones through knife crime or been affected by knife crime in other ways.
Coun Khan said:
“I am thankful that Blackburn has been able to host this amazing artwork that acts as a conversation starter around why people carry knives as weapons.
“I would urge everyone to come into Blackburn town centre to see this imposing artwork up close, and to get involved in the various awareness and education activities. Taking part may just help you start a conversation that deters someone from knife crime and potentially saves lives.”
The Knife Crime Lancashire project is a partnership between the Lancashire Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office, Lancashire Violence Reduction Network, Blackburn Cathedral and Blackburn with Darwen Council.
The Revd Canon Dr Rowena Pailing, Vice Dean & Canon Missioner at Blackburn Cathedral, has worked closely with the British Ironworks Centre to bring the Knife Angel to Lancashire. She added:
“After months of preparations, we’re looking forward to welcoming the Knife Angel to Lancashire during November.
“The various education activities and awareness sessions are open to everyone from across the county. Anyone of all faiths and none is welcome at the cathedral to take part in the month-long programme.”