A special event will take place in Liverpool this month to remember those youngsters who have lost their lives through violence.
Liverpool Cathedral will host the vigil on Saturday 25 September, with the aim to bring together the family and friends of those who have been killed as a result of violent crimes such as knife and gun crime.
Starting at 6:30pm, there will be a series of live music performances by local talent including Quinten Green and the Liverpool Lighthouse Project Urban Choir. There will also be poetry readings and speeches and those attending will be encouraged to light a candle at the venue and contribute to a book of condolence to share memories of their loved one. The book will be open across the weekend.
The inspiration behind the event is Mandy Jamieson whose son Danny was stabbed to death in Gateacre, July 2018, aged just 16.
Since the tragedy, Mandy has set up Danny’s Place – a charity which facilitates talks to schools, youth organisations and the probation sector about the ripple effect knife crime can have.
In a bid to lobby the government to introduce an official national remembrance day for victims and the families of youth violence, the cathedral event will be an open invitation to anyone affected by this type of crime, to remember their loved one and to celebrate their lives.
A similar event will also take place in Chelmsford, Essex – the current location for the Knife Angel sculpture which was originally on display outside Liverpool cathedral in 2018.
On the Saturday evening, city landmarks have been asked to support the campaign by lighting up purple, and anyone who can’t attend the event is being asked to step out of their front door at 8pm and shine a light – either from their phone, using a torch or even lighting a candle – in a show of solidarity.
The event is being organised by Liverpool City Council’s Culture Liverpool team, in partnership with Liverpool Cathedral and Danny’s Place, with refreshments donated by Morrisons in Belle Vale. It is also supported by Merseyside Police and the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership which sees young people’s organisations, the DWP, the Home Office, the Probation Service, the five Merseyside local authorities, the fire service and other partner agencies using youth-informed programmes to tackle serious violence.
Mandy Jamieson, Founder of Danny’s Place, said: “There can be a real stigma when a young person loses their life as a result of a violent act, and I’ve known some parents feel they can’t remember their loved ones in the way they would wish to.
“As someone who has experienced this sort of tragedy first-hand, I want there to be a national day where families and friends can come together, share their memories and pay tribute to the people they have lost.
“The service at Liverpool Cathedral is a great first step to highlighting the impact violent crime can have on those who are left behind. I initially approached Mayor Joanne with the idea and I am hugely grateful that she, along with the Culture Liverpool team, are supporting this initiative and understanding what a real difference it could make to people’s lives.”
Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said: “It is devastating when anyone needlessly loses their lives through violence – especially when it’s a young person who should have had their whole life ahead of them.
“I have watched Mandy tell her story to young people, who listened to her intently. How she uses her grief and unimaginable experience to help others is inspirational. Her dedication to getting out in to the community and being brutally honest about the impact that violence can have on those left behind is very hard-hitting.
“I am proud that as an organisation, and as a city, we can help make this event a reality and shine a spotlight on this difficult subject, in the hope that if we share our stories and educate those around us, we can prevent further tragedies from happening.”
Prevention Policing Superintendent Sarah Kenwright said: “We understand how devastating incidents of violent crime can be for families, particularly when young people are involved, and we do a huge amount of community engagement which aims to understand the issues our communities face and what Merseyside Police and its partners can do to combat them.
“Merseyside already has a number of successful operations which aim to tackle violent crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Together with our partners we have also invested significantly into various resources, educational initiatives and intervention campaigns to provide people with positive opportunities and diversionary activities.
“We are also in the process of setting up youth advisory groups so that we can listen to the views of young people and learn how best to work alongside our communities to keep everyone safe.”
Dr Sue Jones, Dean of Liverpool said: “This vigil is a way for us to show solidarity with those who’ve been affected by or lost loved ones to violent crime.
“By hosting the Knife Angel at Liverpool Cathedral in 2018, we hoped to help people make sense of the issues it raised by reflecting on the artwork when they came into our building. As well as standing alongside all those affected by violent crime in this vigil, we want to urge those who commit such crimes to recognise the pain they cause themselves and others as we work to a day when we truly see peace in our streets.
“We will continue to pray for peace in our city and beyond.”
Detective Superintendent Siobhan Gainer, the Head of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership, said: “Serious violence impacts not just the lives of victims, but that of their families, friends and indeed, the entire community around them, fostering fear. Our focus is on using positive interventions to divert young people away from serious violence – one of which is art – and the knife sculpture is so emotive.
“We also educate on the consequences and damage adverse childhood experiences can have, taking a whole family approach to reducing serious violence. This ceremony uses those same techniques, is youth-led and will undoubtedly make us all remember Daniel and others who have lost their lives.”