HARD-HITTING sessions on the impacts of knife crime are to reach thousands of young people this summer as the Knife Angel lands in Sunderland. 

Tanya and Simon Brown, from the Connor Brown Trust, have worked tirelessly on their mission to bring the powerful statue to the city and want to make sure their anti-knife message gets through to as many young people as possible. 

They’re appealing to everyone who works with those in Year 5 and beyond to book onto sessions running throughout June and warn slots are filling fast. 

The sculpture is taking pride of place in Keel Square throughout the month, and the educational workshops will be running alongside this in City Hall. Sessions available to book via The Connor Brown Trust website. 

The impressive sculpture is made with over 100,000 seized blade and was created to highlight the dangers of violent crime and the negative effects it brings to our society. 

The Connor Brown Trust works to provide youth work programmes to benefit young people and the wider community. It is hoped the powerful structure made of 100,000 surrendered blades will bring people together and encourage open conversations around the dangers of carrying bladed weapons, and the potential consequences. 

Tanya Brown, bravely tells the story of how her own son, Connor, was tragically killed as a result of knife crime as part of the impactful sessions she delivers to classrooms and youth groups. She said: “We share the tragic circumstances that led to Connor’s death in detail because it helps others understand the impact of knife crime in more depth. We feel that in being so open and honest about it is a crucial part of the workshops and we want our streets to be safe, we want young people to be safe. The knife angel represents a visual part of learning and helps to deliver the emotional impact on a bigger scale.”  

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Susan Dungworth whose office has helped fund the initiative, said: “We’ve seen too many lives lost because of people choosing to carry knives and so the more young people we reach out to and educate about the dangers of knife crime, the better chance we have of avoiding devastating losses in the future. 

“There has been some good work happening across the region, the Violence Reduction Unit is really established now and inspirational people like Tanya and Simon are such a driving force in preventing youth violence. As the new Police and Crime Commissioner, tackling knife crime will remain a top priority – there’s lots to build on and lots more to do.” 

Chief Superintendent Joanne Park-Simmons, Northumbria Police’s knife crime lead, said: “As a Force, sadly we are only too aware of the utter devastation that knife crime can cause to so many people. A huge amount of work is ongoing to help tackle, reduce and prevent knife crime across Northumbria – through proactive activity targeting offenders as well as crucial intervention work educating young people on why they should never carry weapons. We’d like to thank Tanya and Simon for their incredible work in continuing to shine a light on this important issue among young people and our wider communities – and would encourage as many people as possible to book onto these sessions. As ever, we’d ask parents and carers to have those difficult conversations with young people about the dangers of carrying knives. By working together, we can help to keep our region safe and further reduce knife crime incidents in our communities.” 

North East Mayor Kim McGuinness said: “The knife angel tells a stark but necessary warning around the dangers of knife crime. It is backed by families who have suffered terrible tragedy and now work tirelessly to prevent others going through their loss. I’m proud to back those families and the education work going on in schools across the North East warning young people of the all-too-real human cost involved in carrying a knife. I want to thank Tanya and Simon for all they have done here, their sheer determination to prevent tragedy, building on the work of Samantha’s Legacy and so many others who, on a daily basis, work hard to make our region safer. Anyone who saw the knife angel when we brought it to Gateshead along with Samantha’s Legacy, knows how powerful it is. It’s hard-hitting and it makes you think and that’s the whole idea. I’m looking forward to welcoming the angel to Sunderland as a way of representing the social change we’ve been pushing for across the region to end knife crime . It’s all about encouraging the important conversations – getting schools and youth groups to sign up to the sessions ran by Tanya and Simon. Listening to them speak about what happened to Connor is such a moving and impactful wake-up call for anyone who thinks carrying a knife is OK.” 

Councillor Michael Mordey, Leader of Sunderland County Council, said: “This an important part of the wider work underway across the region to make young people think twice about carrying a knife. 

“I think Tanya and Simon’s story will be incredibly powerful in getting the message across to young people about the devastating impact of knife crime and I would encourage everyone who has the chance to sign up for one of these sessions to do so.” 

Sunderland’s ground-breaking SAIL project has been working closely with the Connor Brown Trust in the lead up to the Knife Angel event. 

With a focus on education and prevention, SAIL has worked with the most at risk young people and challenged their behaviour and attitudes to violent crime through a series of themed graffiti workshops as well as this targeted intervention work. 

SAIL has also delivered knife crime workshops in schools, as part of #OpSceptre and throughout June will be involved in fundraising with the aim of creating a legacy in Connor Brown’s name, by providing Emergency Bleed Kits in Sunderland city centre. 

These sessions will centre on warning young people of the dangers as well as crucially making sure they know what to do and where to go if they need help or advice if they or someone they know is carrying a knife. 

The workshops will consist of different activities and educational sessions to suit a range of ages from primary school, to secondary school aged children. Youth groups and clubs are also encouraged to sign up. Sessions are 90 minutes in length and are limited to 45 people per session including accompanying adults. www.connorbrowntrust.com