Thousands of young people have signed pledges not to carry a knife after seeing a harrowing exhibition honouring the life of murdered London teenager Ben Kinsella.
The 16-year-old was chased, kicked to the ground and stabbed 11 times in a five-second attack in Islington in June 2008. He was targeted after a row he had nothing to do with broke out as he left a bar with friends.
His family founded the Ben Kinsella Trust and opened an educational project and exhibition at Finsbury Library with the help of Islington council featuring Ben’s artwork, his writing, a film about his life and a mock-up jail cell to show the “dangers and consequences” of knife crime.
Visitors see a film that shows interviews with Ben’s relatives and CCTV footage of the seconds before he was killed. The charity is backed by Islington mayor Kat Fletcher. In the borough and elsewhere in London there have been knife crime increases in the past two years.
Ben hoped to be a graphic designer. The exhibition includes his designs and a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Gordon Brown warning of a surge in stabbings affecting young Britons.At the exhibition, Ben’s father George, a black cab driver, 57, said: “I’m very proud of what the exhibition has achieved and if it stops just one of them from doing something silly then we’ve achieved something. We’ve had 6,000 pledges from young people saying they would not carry a knife. We want kids from across London to see our exhibition.”
Ben’s murderers, Michael Alleyne, 20, Jade Braithwaite, 18, and Juress Kika, 19, all from London, were jailed in 2008 for a minimum of 19 years.
Mr Kinsella, who reiterated his call for tougher custodial sentences for those caught carrying a knife a second time, said: “I still think about my son every day, it’s like yesterday all over again, my wife and family are the same... it never goes away, it never will — you just learn to deal with it a bit better.”
On August 21, 25 people, including Ben’s sisters Georgia and ex-EastEnders actress Brooke, will undertake the Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for the trust. To donate for the trek go tovirginmoneygiving.com/fund/3peaksforben