The Knife Angel is a 27-foot sculpture constructed from 100,000 confiscated or surrendered weapons, including blunted flick knives, kitchen knives and even samurai swords.
The striking statue, which is also known as the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression, will be on display in Chelmsford’s Central Park for a month. It’s hoped its message to ‘Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife’ will leave a lasting impression on the city.
The British Ironwork Centre created the sculpture, which travels all over the UK, to raise awareness about the dangers of knife crime, aggression and violence.
This is the Knife Angel’s first appearance in Essex and more than a thousand blades from the county can be found within it. Personal messages from families affected by the terrible consequences of knife crime have also been engraved onto the feathers of the angel’s wings.
Knife amnesty and special events planned
A knife amnesty campaign will be held throughout September while it’s in Chelmsford and new knife bins where bladed weapons can be disposed of safely and without fear of prosecution will be placed around the city.
A special programme of youth-led events will also run while the statue is in Central Park, including a vigil to remember those who have lost their lives and a youth awards ceremony at the end of the month.
Positive youth culture championed
The visit is being led by Chelmsford-based youth organisation Keep it 100 Youth CIC with the support of Chelmsford City Council and Essex Police.
Keep it 100 founder Luisa Di Marco says the Knife Angel’s visit to Chelmsford is a privilege and a unique opportunity to shine a powerful light on the darkness of violent youth culture and the pain many families have been forced to live with.
“This visit gives us an opportunity to spark honest conversations around youth violence and knife crime at a pinnacle moment and to replace statistics with the faces of victims. The Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating for our city’s children and young people, leaving them more in need of our support than ever.
The outreach work and events planned for the Knife Angel’s visit in Chelmsford will provide us with a platform to challenge existing mindsets, listen to our youth and champion positive youth culture at the same time. We hope to inspire carriers to unarm, but we need to broaden horizons and provide attractive and authentic opportunities to this lifestyle.”
Luisa Di Marco, Keep it 100 founder
Essex youth organisations and schools involved
Next month Keep it 100 will start contacting youth organisations and schools across the county about how they can get involved. A full programme will be unveiled in May, including a new online directory of activities for children and young people and a series of events to celebrate youth culture.
Cllr Rose Moore, Chelmsford City Council’s Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford, hopes this powerful event will give those carrying knives a chance to take a different path.
“In a sea of hidden harms and exploitation carrying a knife as ‘protection’ can become second nature, but more young lives are being lost – and life chances shattered – with every blade that remains on our streets.
The Knife Angel has been a transformational presence for communities across the UK and we are proud to support Keep it 100 Essex in bringing it to Chelmsford. The many partnerships being forged by this visit will give us the best chance of reaching our younger residents to provide confidential help and support where it’s most needed.”
Cllr Rose Moore, Chelmsford City Council’s Cabinet Member for a Greener and Safer Chelmsford
The Knife Angel will arrive in Chelmsford on 6 September 2021. For more information about the visit, go to www.keepit100essex.com.