On 28th October, parishioners and members of the local community gathered together at St Mellitus’ Parish in Tollington Park to remember those who have lost their lives to violent crime on the streets of London in 2018.
Parishioners read out the names of those who have died and lit candles to remember them. This event also marked the installation of a new weapons disposal bin in the parish grounds, allowing those who no longer wish to carry knives to dispose of them safely and discreetly. The bin has been installed by the charity Words 4 Weapons, who have helped take 35,000 weapons off the streets of London since they installed their first bin in 2009.
St Mellitus has been particularly affected by youth violence, losing two teenage parishioners to knife crime in the last few years. This has driven the Justice and Peace group and parishioners to come together to try and tackle this problem by raising awareness, organising local knife searches, taking part in the ‘City Safe’ campaign, and most recently by raising funds to install the weapons disposal bin.
Funds were raised through donations from local residents and grants from the council, the Cripplegate Foundation and Caritas Westminster.
Jessica Plummer, a parishioner who lost her son, Shaquan Sammy-Plummer, to knife crime in 2015 told the gathered crowd: ‘Today we are all here trying to work to create changes, and … we need each and every one of you to help us along.’
Since the death of her son Jessica has dedicated her time to going into schools and warning children and parents about the dangers of knife crime. In the last six months she has spoken to over 3,000 children.
A statement from Bishop Nicholas Hudson was read out thanking the parish for installing the bin, and the charities who have supported the project. He said ‘I am sure the weapons disposable bin … will contribute significantly to the safety of everyone in the neighbourhood, but particularly to the wellbeing of young people.’
David Lammy, MP for the neighbouring Tottenham constituency, spoke passionately about the work of tackling knife crime: ‘As Christians we gather with hope in our hearts … and we say to our young people who are carrying a knife … that in the form of that bin is redemption, is the opportunity to put down your knife and begin anew. I have no doubt that this initiative will save lives.’
If, like St Mellitus, your parish wants to respond to a local issue in your community Caritas Westminster can help you through practical support and seed funding for new initiatives. Visit our website and get in touch with your local Caritas Development Worker to find out more at www.caritaswestminster.org.uk.