Cardinal blesses knife bin to support fight against knife crime

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Credit: Diocese of Westminster

Source: Caritas Westminster

On Sunday January 23, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, blessed a newly installed Knife Bin at St Paul the Apostle Church in Wood Green, Borough of Haringey .

This bin, which was provided by Word4Weapons and funded by Caritas Westminster, is a secure amnesty bin for knives and other edged weapons. Bins are placed away from CCTV, in an effort to encourage people to hand over knives which could otherwise be used to commit crimes, causing serious injury or death.

The launch of the knife bin at St Paul the Apostle is one of the ways the Wood Green Catholic community is celebrating its 140th anniversary and 50 years of the current church. Elsewhere, on February 9, another new knife bin will be launched at St Mary and St Michael’s Catholic Church near Commercial Road – the fifth such bin provided by the partnership of Word4Weapons and Caritas Westminster.

Parish priest Fr Perry Sykes said: “Birthdays are first and foremost a time of thanksgiving, when we look back and appreciate again all that has contributed to the growth and well-being of the Wood Green Mission. Those who formed this first community would be happy and happy to see how much has come of such small beginnings. The installation and blessing of the knife bin by Cardinal Vincent yesterday is part of our continuing mission here in the community of Wood Green.

Haringey Mayor Adam Jogee, who attended the event, said: “I am grateful to the Parish of St Paul for the leadership they are showing in keeping Haringey green and safe and hope that anyone who has been touched by issues related to knife crime can feel that this is a safe opportunity to shed their knives and move forward peacefully and safely.”

Grace, vice-president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, a parish group reaching out to people in difficulty, said: “At Wood Green and Tottenham we have a lot of problems with knife crime. Reaching the young people is going to help people give up their real weapons. I think we are doing a brilliant job and setting the stage for others to follow us.

A grade 11 student and member of the church choir said: ‘The knife bin is a very good idea – it can help us reduce knife crime, which is very important.’

Lucia das Neves, councilor for Woodside ward (which includes St Paul’s Church) and cabinet member for health, social care and wellbeing in Haringey, said: “It’s truly inspiring to see how this parish has engaged with the community on the issue of youth violence. I know they have been truly passionate about making a difference for young people. The installation of this knife bin is a visual reminder of the community engagement to fight violence and have a conversation about the issues.

Minet Masho, Caritas Westminster Development Officer, said: “Yesterday’s ceremony, with the beautiful singing of the choir, was a very moving experience. What makes it special is how the whole community has come together, young and old, to support , as a way to solve the serious problem of knife crime in the area.”

Until 2020, knife crime in London had steadily increased, reaching nearly 16,000 recorded offenses in the twelve months to March 2020. The following year to March 2021, this figure is fell to around 10,000, reflecting lower levels of crime generally due to coronavirus lockdowns, however 30 teenagers were killed in London last year, the majority stabbed. The problem of knife crime and the issue of young people regularly carrying knives is an issue that Caritas Westminster takes seriously as part of its mission to see all people live lives of dignity and dignity.

The first Caritas Westminster knife box was installed in Tollington Park in 2018 and two more in Harrow Road and High Barnet the following year. The latest figures from these bins show that a total of 447 knives and 107 other potential weapons have been placed in these bins – off the streets and no longer at risk of causing harm.

The parish communities of Wood Green and Commercial Road each hope to support the knife locker with awareness-raising activities in the coming months. Caritas Westminster supports this work, as well as other advocacy projects to build resilient communities and lift people out of deprivation. They work with Catholic churches and schools in the Diocese of Westminster which covers most of London north of the Thames and Hertfordshire.

www.caritaswestminster.org.uk

See also Word4Weapons: www.word4weapons.co.uk/

Keywords: Cardinal Vincent Nichols, knife trash, knife amnesty, Wood Green, Word4Weapons, Caritas Westminster, Knife Crime

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