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21 April 2010

Islington church saving lives a knife at a time

Islington church saving lives a knife at a time

An Islington church has been host to such a successful knife amnesty scheme that now the 'knife bins' have spread across the capital and are being launched more widely across the country. 

All Saints Church in King's Cross placed a secure knife bin outside its premises last April and was the first non-police location to be used for this purpose. Over a hundred bladed weapons have been surrendered in that bin over the past year, which averages about two a week.

Reverend Martyn Saunders was inspired to initiate the project after he heard Michael Smith from London Christian charity Word 4 Weapons speak about ways in which the community and churches can utilise opportunities to reach out to young people who carry knives and show them another way. The borough had seen a series of ­tragic murders of young people and the church was looking for a way to respond and make a difference.

Rev Saunders said: " At the time when we set this knife bin up we were still reeling locally from the death of Ben Kinsella which had brought home the un-necessary loss of life involved in knife based assaults. When I made contact with Mike I was quite surprised to find that we were the first site to sign up to hosting a bin."

He continued: "It is important that the Church is seen to be responding to the needs and difficulties of the community. Sadly last week Sam Fitzgerald was stabbed, and later died, about 100 metres from the site of our bin. We will never know though exactly how many other lives have been saved due to the knives leaving the streets."

People that surrender knives can choose to pick up an 'All I need' bag containing a Bible and some leaflets exploring Christianity. Police collect the blades which will eventually be melted down and turned into medals that Word 4 Weapons can present to reformed criminals. Since last April another eight knife bins have been established in London and plans are in process to encourage other areas of the country to take part in the scheme too.