Knives Impact Everyone – one mum’s message to school kids as the Knife Angel comes to Sunderland this summer

Tanya and Simon Brown will be sharing their heart-breaking story of losing their son, Connor, to knife crime as part of school visits to the Knife Angel when it comes to Sunderland this June.

Plans are underway for Connor’s parents – who set up The Connor Brown Trust – to reach as many Wearside students as possible with their powerful anti-knife crime workshops. They will be pushing the region’s Knives Impact Everyone Campaign to young audiences to steer them away from ever choosing to pick up a knife.

The sessions will involve Tanya talking about what happened, how it’s changed her life forever and where people can go for help and advice if they or someone they know is carrying a knife.

A programme of youth sport and music activities is also being devised to help engage with young people around making positive choices.

The Connor Brown Trust has been working closely with Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness and Sunderland City Council to bring the powerful sculpture to the city – which will be located at Keel Square in June 2024.

During its time in the city, it is hoped it will be visited by thousands and will encourage open conversations around the dangers of carrying bladed weapons, and the potential consequences for individuals, families, and entire communities.

It is not the first time the Knife Angel has visited the region. In February 2020, the emotive figure stood tall on Gateshead’s quayside at Performance Square, outside what is now called The Glasshouse.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness said: “Anyone who has already seen the knife angel knows how powerful it is. When we brought it to Gateshead a few years ago people were really taken aback by it – it sends shivers – it really makes you think – and that’s the idea.

“It’s there to make a statement. It represents lives lost and the need for change – knife violence has to stop.

“The Connor Brown Trust do such amazing work to turning their unimaginable experience into such good. I am so grateful to them for being such a driving force for getting the Angel to Sunderland and all the educational work they’re going to be delivering alongside this.”

Tanya Brown from The Connor Brown Trust, who has just been shortlisted for the Northern Power Women Awards’ Person with Purpose award, said:

“We as a family are really looking forward to the Knife Angel’s visit to Sunderland as it gives us a chance to reflect on our own grief and loss of Connor.

“We set about bringing this project to life in the very early stages of us setting up the Trust. This was after visiting the sculpture in Middlesbrough 2019 and then being invited by Samantha’s Legacy to the official launch of the Angel in Gateshead in 2020. It is such a poignant piece that now so many can resonate with. It does leave you feeling waves of emotions that have an impact on you and that is one of the key messages we want to get out to everyone, knife crime does impact on everyone.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “No parent should ever have to go through what Tanya and Simon went through when they lost Connor to knife crime.

“That they have been able to channel their grief into the force for good that is the Connor Brown Trust is nothing short of remarkable. I hope that their powerful story touches the lives of all those visiting the Knife Angel and attending the workshops in Sunderland this summer.

“If this makes even one young person think twice about carrying a knife or sparks a conversation among a group of young people about the devastating consequences of knife crime, then the Knife Angel’s visit will have been well worthwhile.”

Artist Alfie Bradley created the knife angel out of blades handed in during amnesties held by police forces across the country.