Youngsters turn killer knives taken off Newham's streets into garden tools
PUBLISHED: 14:00 17 June 2019
Around 800 people have taken a stand against violence by turning killer knives found on Newham's streets into garden tools.
The community took knives seized by police and melted them down to make new tools and a sculpture for display in Bonny Downs Community Association Community Gardens, Wellington Road, East Ham.
Dr Sally Mann, minister at Bonny Downs Baptist Church, said at Saturday's event: "Today we've seen 800 people passionately calling for change.
"The beautiful tools and art we've created out of knives will serve as a public reminder that hope can win over hate."
Under the guidance of a metalsmith and two blacksmiths, young people helped create the new pieces.
A liturgy shared at the event concluded with the words, "We beat these knives from death to life."
Dr Mann, a spokeswoman for the organisation Red Letter Christians UK which is behind the event, announced the launch of Newham's first and only knife surrender bin.
Its first year of operation will be funded by Transform Newham, a network of churches in the borough, and Newham Council.
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Working with the Salvation Army and Word4Weapons, a weapons surrender charity, the bin is expected to be ready for use by the end of the summer.
A total of 600 young people came together for the 16th annual London Churches football tournament organised by Ambassadors Football alongside the event, highlighting how places of worship can offer young people positive alternatives.
Speakers at the event included Rokhsana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham, and Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham.
Guest speaker, Shane Claiborne - founder of Red Letter Christians - said: "The prophetic vision of beating swords into ploughshares reminds us that life is more powerful than death and love is more powerful than hatred.
"God doesn't want to change the world without us, and he invites all of us to participate in building the world we dream of."
Knife offences reached a record 40,000 in England and Wales in 2018 and London accounted for around a third of the total, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Newham also had the highest number of murders of any London borough last year, Met police data showed.
One of the people attending was Paris Tankard, a young man personally affected by the violence on London's streets. He said: "I've seen first-hand how knife crime affects communities, having lost my friend to an attack just four months ago.
"I'm here today because events like this are incredibly important in helping communities to stand up against violence."
Waheed Khan, superintendent of the Metropolitan Police in Newham, said: "I am pleased to support this event, which highlights the tremendous work being done by so many people to help tackle the scourge of knife crime that blights our community."