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Church holds service for young lives lost to knife crime

Priest: 'We want to be here in solidarity with young people who live with stress and fear and anxiety every day of their lives'

27 September, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Revd Prebendary Marjorie Brown of St Mary’s Church

WO more teenagers were stabbed in Chalk Farm less than an hour after candles had been lit at a church in memory of those who have been killed in Camden’s recent wave of violence.

The attacks continued in other areas of the borough and nearby over the weekend. A young man was attacked on the Kilburn High Road, a 15-year-old was hurt on the Alexandra and Ainsworth estate, and a man was injured in a stabbing in King’s Cross on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier this month, three people were killed in the space of just five days, including Shakira Mercedes who was stabbed in Belmont Street and Assad Abdullah Yarow who died after an attack in Camden High Street. Sixteen candles were lit at St Mary’s Church, Primrose Hill, on Friday night to remember young people from Camden who have died in recent years, many stabbed to death.

The church hosts a pioneering youth service with an aim to curb violence and gang culture within Camden. They work with young people up to 25 years old by mentoring and offering them work.

Speaking after the emotional service on Friday evening, Emile Libock, lead youth worker at Mary’s Trust, said young people “100 per cent” felt traumatised by the spike in deaths.

He added: “It’s becoming an every-other-day thing. Young people don’t want to come out of their house no more, even going to play football in the parks. We are struggling to get young people to do normal sessions like football sessions due to having to walk out of the house. They genuinely are traumatised with what is going on right now.”

Mary Centre, based at the church, offers 24-hour support and support for young adults. Camden Council’s own investigatiion into rising levels of violence reported last year there was a significant “gap in provision” for young people aged 18 to 25.

Revd Prebendary Marjorie Brown, of St Mary’s Church – which has the borough’s first knife bin – said the recent attacks had been “too awful”. Opening the service on Friday night, attended by youth workers, young people and councillors,

Revd Brown, said: “We want to sit in solidarity, particularly with our amazing youth workers who are here tonight whose hearts are broken, frankly, by the loss of young lives over the last few years. We want to be here in solidarity with young people who live with stress and fear and anxiety every day of their lives.”

She also expressed solidarity with those who work in services “who are doing whatever they can to try and find some sort of solution and who are so depressed that everyone’s best efforts often seem to end in failure”.

A powerful speech was made by Bishop of Edmonton Rob Wickham, who wears a cross around his neck formed from knives collected in a knife bin in Hackney.

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