Manchester churches team up to battle knife crime

CHURCHES in Harpurhey and Collyhurst invited people to deposit illegally-held weapons this weekend in ‘surrender’ as part of Greater Manchester’s #BinTheBlade campaign.

Bins encouraging locals to deposit weapons were set up in Harpurhey’s Christ Church and St Patrick’s church in Collyhurst in a unprecedented initiative between the Church of England and Catholic churches during advent.

Knives, illegal weapons, or any other bladed instruments were dropped off in the bins anonymously over the weekend, allowing residents an opportunity to get rid of knives in their possession.

Harpurhey has one of the highest crime rates in Manchester and was found to be ‘the worst place in England’ for quality of life in 2013. Collyhurst ranks just under Harpurhey for levels of crime rate.

“This was an opportunity for to come to a church and make a difference. An opportunity to do something about it, a second chance”

Fr Ged Murphy from St Patricks said: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to celebrate the birth of the Lord of life, not by taking a life but by saving one. Taking knives off the streets of North Manchester would be a great start.”

Fr Murphy added that the idea for the project came about after Fr Murphy held a funeral in September for a man in his early thirties was stabbed.

“It is a big trust thing for us and locals. A lot of people who own these knives are not willing to head to a police station for fear of being filmed or arrested.

“We can offer a safe place where they can hand in weapons without fear, and that will be to the benefit of everyone.”

Fr Murphy added that this first-time initiative will take some time for momentum to build, and said that the two knives handed in at both churches is a “great step in the right direction” for the project.

The church vicar also said that several other churches across Manchester are considering in running the project, as is at least one mosque in the city.

“We are in the business of spreading good news, so the whole project is about life. One thing all religions have in common is that we should do no harm. I hope it could be the start of something really exciting.”

Rector of Christ Church, Harpurhey, The Revd Mike McGurk, said, “As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, it is fitting that we are opening our church doors to the community.

“Christmas is a time to celebrate God’s gift of love and we want to share that love with our neighbours.”

Revd McGurk added, “This was an opportunity for to come to a church and make a difference. An opportunity to do something about it, a second chance.”

Superintendent Dave Pester from the City of Manchester Division of Greater Manchester Police said: “Knives pose a serious risk within our communities and the more we can take off our streets, the greater chance we have of saving lives.

“We are grateful to the churches for lending their support to this very important campaign and that residents will take the opportunity to hand in their blades safely and anonymously.”

This article was written for Quays News.

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