Eighty names of stab victims are inscribed on blades that make up the Knife Angel national monument against violence and aggression being hosted by Chester Cathedral.
Made from more than 100,000 surrendered knives and weapons, the powerful work will stand outside the west door, facing Town Hall Square, between November 1-28.
Standing at 8.2m high and weighing 3.5 tonnes, the eye-catching sculpture is expected to draw hundreds of people.
Visitors will be encouraged to call into the cathedral’s children’s chapel, which will be renamed the ‘Angel Chapel’ in honour of the artwork by Alfie Bradley.
The Angel Chapel will be a quiet place for visitors to reflect upon national knife crime, offering information leaflets, a video highlighting the dangers of carrying knives and the chance for people to share their thoughts in a prayer box.
Blades making up the sculpture were collected in national knife amnesties throughout the UK and a number were bloodied and came in evidence tubes. All were sterilised and blunted and today some 80 blades carry the names of knife crime victims, inscribed by their loved ones.
Speakers at a private launch event on November 1 will include Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane, a headteacher and Chester mum Liz Ardolino, whose son Leo Marcus, 22, a former Upton High School student, was killed in a knife attack in Woolwich, London, in July.
Canon Missioner and Vice Dean, Canon Jane Brooke, who wanted to host the Knife Angel after seeing it at Liverpool, said: “The cathedral feels it has an important role to play in raising awareness of knife crime and spreading the message that violence is never the answer. We want to prevent such crime in our city and feel that it is vital to demonstrate the dangers of people carrying knives.”
Police and crime commissioner David Keane commented: “I’m pleased to welcome this iconic statue to Cheshire as it makes its way across the country raising awareness of the devastating effects of knife crime. The Knife Angel is a symbol of both loss and hope that sends an important message to our communities.
“Cheshire has a lower rate of knife crime than most other counties in England but our aim is for weapon-free streets throughout the county.
“We will use this opportunity of having the Knife Angel in Chester to widen the conversation with our schools and young people about the dangers of carrying a knife in a bid to reduce the number of knife-related incidents in Cheshire.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Cllr Louise Gittins said: “We are lucky to not have a significant knife crime problem in our borough compared to other areas of the country. However, we do share the desire to solve this growing nationwide knife crime crisis.
“By welcoming the Knife Angel to our borough, we want to show our support to other areas of the country who experience challenges associated with knife crime.
“We hope that its presence outside the cathedral and the planned school visits by the police will show our solidarity with the victims of knife crime and their families. We also hope it will raise awareness of the impact of knife crime in communities.
“Through listening to local young people we are aware of their fears and perceptions of knife crime here in our borough. Our targeted youth service will be providing drop in sessions at the cathedral and as part of our normal centre based delivery and detached youth work in Chester and across the borough for the duration of the Knife Angel project.”
Superintendent Sarah Heath, tackling weapons lead, added: “Cheshire Police work closely with partners to promote and increase public confidence in the constabulary’s ability to reduce knife crime across our region.
“Much more than just enforcing the law around weapons we seek to address the complex issues associated with knife crime and habitual knife carrying. We have developed long term strategies to empower communities and support young people through education, awareness and intervention.”
For information about the youth service click here.
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