Southwark community taking action against rising violent crime in London, opens Peace Garden on September 21st, World Peace Day.
Three tonnes of knives seized by the police after violent crimes to now be used as a symbol of peace and unity.
London, 21st September 2018: When Southwark resident Abdulrahman Musa-Johnson was attacked in an alleyway near his home in 2015 by men who he later discovered were his neighbours, no-one realised it would lead to the formation of a community-wide project to tackle the challenges of knife crime at source. Today the launch of the Southwark Peace Garden, on the former ‘Clubland’ site at Walworth Road Methodist Church is another major milestone in the group’s proactive programme of education and reflection to inspire real change in Southwark, and neighbouring London Boroughs.
There has been a sharp and well publicised increase in knife crime across London with Southwark experiencing amongst the highest number of incidents of any borough in the capital – averaging two serious incidents a day involving knives. After his own experience Abdul gathered together a group of local residents, members of his church community and representatives from the local Police, Council and Anti Knife Crime Forum to see what could be done and the concept of Southwark Peace Garden was born in 2016, to act as a focal point for the community and a bold, symbolic statement of their commitment to action. Since then schools, colleges, youth groups, local businesses and trade groups, charitable foundations and local residents have come together with leading institutions and the police, supported by grants, donations and a crowd funding project to drive change.
Southwark Peace Garden will partner with Peace One Day to open on the 21st September, World Peace Day, and its progress to date is a real celebration of the work of hundreds of local people and organisations, who share a desire to make a difference. Through real collaboration their drive was to do something proactive about violence on their streets while also providing a place for quiet reflection to remember the victims of knife crime. The Mayor of Southwark will officially open the garden on the 21st and visitors are then invited from 4-7pm to see this sanctuary from the pace and noise of city life for themselves.
BA Architecture students from Ravensbourne University London designed the garden itself around a concept of “Relief, Reflect and Resolution” and a team of 16-18 year old apprentices from Southwark Construction Skills Centre then took on the tough task of building the garden and bringing the vision to life with help and support from of R&S Contractors and Ringway Jacobs Ltd. Knowledge, expertise, plants and funding were provided through the Grow Wild outreach initiative of the Royal Botanical Garden of Kew. Another special feature of the garden is the Herbal Garden, featuring medicinal plants generously selected and donated by the Royal College of Physicians. The donated plants have been installed by another local organisation; Bankside Open Spaces Trust apprentices. By day the garden provides space for people of all ages to meet, talk together and reflect while at night the garden will become a warm, safe, comfortable environment to enjoy nature, vivid colours and the scent from the plants.
The community group have also commissioned a sculpture which will be at the heart of the garden and will be installed later in the year. The Orb designed by BA sculpture students at UAL’s Camberwell College of Arts and built in collaboration with the students, local residents, and Southwark Youth Council, representing schools across the borough, under the guidance of London Sculpture Workshop. The Orb is made from over 3 tonnes of blunted weapons which were used in actual crimes and seized by police in just over a month.
Emma Lillingston, one of the designers of the Orb said, “In using actual weapons we wanted to take objects of hate and sadness and transform them into a lasting symbol of peace. The spherical shape of the Orb symbolises the world wide spread of knife crime and violence and ensures visitors to the garden can view the sculpture from all angles. The interlocking knives powerfully represent the unity of the people of Southwark fighting against violence and we hope the sculpture will act as a reminder of the scale of knife crime while encouraging peaceful reflection and remembrance. Our team was so proud to be involved in this.”
The Peace Garden is located on the former 'Clubland' site, originally built in the 1930’s to serve the young people of the area and to provide them with life-enhancing skills and opportunities. Indeed, one of South London’s most famous sons, Michael Caine, was one of the first to ever appear on the ‘Clubland’ stage as a young boy. Damaged by bombs during the Second World War the site was re-built with much community effort and so seems the perfect site for this latest community effort tackling today’s community challenges. Walworth Methodist Church is now based at the site and is already home to a wide range of community organisations in Southwark. It is the hope of the Southwark Peace Garden Steering Committee that the ethos of ‘Clubland’ can be resurrected through the outreach and education programmes being planned for the local youth community.
Abdulrahman Musa-Johnson, local resident and founder of the Peace Garden, said “This project is proof of the amazing things that can happen when good people stand together against things that are wrong. That night in 2015, when I feared for my own life and every time I attend another victim’s funeral or meet another family whose lives have been torn apart by violence I knew that I had to do something. Seeing our vision for the Peace Garden come to life today, on World Peace Day, with support from the Peace One Day team is testament to the work of so many people. I really want to thank everyone who has been involved and helped in whatever way they could, and to encourage everyone now to visit and feel the special atmosphere of the place. We aren’t stopping here. We’re excited now to be launching an education and skills programmes along with the incredible Red Thread Youth charity targeting youths who have been excluded from school, are unemployed or at risk of getting into crime for other reasons. Working with students from Camberwell Arts College and local schools we are also developing a programme aimed at 9-11 year olds to help them make the right choices in future and understand that there is always a better way.”
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter @PeaceSouthwark, and Instagram @southwarkpeacegarden.
Visit our website www.southwarkpeacegarden.com which was kindly built by students at London College of Communication, UAL
Contact Details for more information/spokespersons/photographs:
Kate Sedwell, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07971947551
Notes for Editors about community groups/partners associated with the Southwark Peace Garden:
Walworth Methodist Church
Walworth Methodist Church (‘Clubland’) is located on the busy Camberwell Road, midway between the Elephant and Castle and Camberwell Green, at the heart of the London borough of Southwark.
From just a handful of members in the 1970s the church has grown to become one of the largest and most dynamic congregations in British Methodism and supports a wide range of fellowships and activities. Whether you have just moved into the area, or are visiting, or looking for a church, we extend a warm welcome to you.
Ravensbourne people are as diverse as the city we occupy and the industries we serve. Students and colleagues. Research and business partners. We are united by a desire to innovate and change the world through creativity. Interior architecture graduates often go on to design the rehabilitation and extension of existing buildings, or the creation of new built environments.
Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London
Camberwell has courses in art, design and conservation. With around 1,600 foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate students it's one of London's smaller art colleges.
Our courses will help you develop your own ideas through creating work with guidance from our expert staff, encouraging open dialogue with tutors and technicians and developing creative industry connections.
London College of Communications, University of the Arts London
London College of Communication is a pioneering world leader in creative communications education. It works at the cutting edge of new thinking in Design, Media and Screen and prepares its students to become the future of the creative industries. The LCC experience is all about learning by doing. Students get their hands dirty and develop their skills through the exploration of heritage and future technologies. Creating the Southwark Peace Garden website is an example of this.
Southwark Construction Skills Centre
The Southwark Construction Skill Centre’s (SCSC) main mission is to lead and support our network of local employers, industry partners, further and higher educational organisations and local stakeholders, which cover every construction sector and key community groups, and will drive industry improvement.
The Primary aim is to build the SCSC as a brand with a focus on increasing employment and training opportunities in the construction sector for local people.
Peace One Day
Peace One Day is a non-profit organisation founded in 1999 by Jeremy Gilley to institutionalise September 21st as a Peace Day, which the member states of the United nations adopted in 2001 as the first ever day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
Grow Wild, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Grow Wild is the national outreach initiative of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Kew). The programme takes Kew’s message outside the walls of our two botanic gardens, reaching new and different audiences. We’re supported by the Big Lottery Fund through National Lottery Funds, and through private and public contributions.
Through Grow Wild, Kew is inspiring millions of people to grow as a group, get active, learn about and engage with nature, and give back through volunteering. All of which can improve health and wellbeing, as well as urban and unloved spaces across the UK.
Royal College of Physicians
The RCP's core mission is to drive improvements in health and healthcare through advocacy, education and research.
We are an independent patient centred and clinically led organisation that drives improvement in the diagnosis of disease, the care of individual patients and the health of the whole population both in the UK and across the globe.
We also deliver a wide range of projects aimed at strengthening health systems and improving medical standards across the globe
London Sculpture Workshop
LSW is London's first open access sculpture workshop. We are a not-for-profit, community interest based company with exceptional facilities for artists/makers and those interested in making work in 3D. LSW offers a superbly equipped metal and wood workshop and additional mould-making and ceramic areas and over 2,500 sq. ft. of flexible working areas.
Bankside Open Spaces Trust
Bankside Open Spaces Trust is a registered charity that was set up by a group of local people with an aim to improve the SE1 area, making it a greener, more beautiful place to live and work.
Set up in 2000 and predominately operating in spaces from Waterloo to London Bridge, we work closely with local communities, residents and local businesses to make a difference. We have helped to create and look after over 45 individual parks and gardens. These include Red Cross Garden, Waterloo Green, Diversity Garden, Marlborough Sports Garden, Tate Modern Community Garden, Crossbones Garden and Mint Street Park.
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