The striking Knife Angel monument has been a prominent feature in Market Place, Nuneaton throughout June.
The striking Knife Angel monument has been a prominent feature in Market Place, Nuneaton throughout June. Crafted from over 100,000 seized blades, the sculpture serves as a powerful symbol to raise awareness about the devastating impact of violent behaviour, while also standing as a poignant memorial of the lives lost.
Its presence marks a month-long focus on preventing violence, with Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and partners including the Police & Crime Commissioner, Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, and Warwickshire Police taking a proactive stance by engaging with the community and initiating essential conversations about the repercussions of carrying knives.
As part of this initiative, the WCC Community Safety Team has offered a series of awareness sessions, workshops, and activities at schools across the region.
One participating school was George Eliot Academy and students recently took part in a Choices and Consequences session, which encouraged them to engage with stories that highlight the wide-spread impact of knife crime.
Pupils heard the story of David Idowu, an intelligent and compassionate teenager from London who was tragically murdered just days before he was due to deliver a speech on the prevention of knife crime. His powerful words continue to resonate: “We must not let this teen knife crime take over our culture. I urge you, fight against it. Do not let your child, brother, or sister become the next victim."
To help pupils open up, Ben Hudson from WCC shared a personal account of his encounter with knife violence. He demonstrated immense bravery when, as a secondary school student, he intervened to protect a girl who was being viciously attacked with a knife. This poignant story underscored the breadth and longevity of the consequences faced not only by the victims of knife crime, but by witnesses and family members of both the perpetrator and victims.
Throughout the workshop, pupils actively engaged in discussions and explored scenarios related to knife crime, reinforcing the importance of reporting concerns and not remaining silent. The workshop finished with a reminder to students to visit the Knife Angel and reflect on its symbolism, emphasising the significance of personal responsibility and the power of the younger generation to effect change in their communities.
Feedback from young people who participated in the workshops and sessions has been positive. A pupil from All Saints Primary School remarked, "knives should only ever be used to make dinner or help people do their job,” while a year 7 pupil from George Eliot Academy expressed the significance of the Knife Angel's presence, stating, "It's important that the Knife Angel visits towns in England because it helps to spread awareness of the dangers of knife crime. It also shows people how knife crime affects everyone, not just victims or people with physical scars."
Teachers have also praised the impact of these sessions, with one teacher from Etone School commending the sessions: "Three members of staff approached me about how impactful and informative your sessions were. They also commented on how engaged the students were and they loved how you incorporated your legal and personal knowledge of the subject."
Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Fire and Rescue at WCC, said: “By collaborating with schools and engaging young people in thought-provoking discussions, WCC endeavours to create a safer environment for children and eradicate the fear of violence. The ongoing efforts to spread anti-violence measures throughout Warwickshire are testament to the Council's commitment to building a child-friendly community where every child can thrive.”
To mark the end of the Knife Angel’s month in Nuneaton, a candle-lit vigil will be held in Market Place, Nuneaton on 29 June. The vigil is open to all, with more details available here.
As the Knife Angel moves on from Nuneaton, the shared responsibility to prevent violence remains. Play your part by starting difficult conversations about the consequences of carrying a knife or making violent choices in moments of anger. For more information about community safety and to join in the discussion, visit safeinwarwickshire.co.uk, follow @safeinwarks on Twitter, and ‘Like’ Safe in Warwickshire on Facebook.