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Powerful anti-knife crime exhibition is murdered Islington teenager Ben Kinsella’s legacy

PUBLISHED: 07:45 30 September 2012

Ben's sister Brooke, father George and mother Deborah, with his headteacher at Holloway School, Bob Hamlyn

Ben's sister Brooke, father George and mother Deborah, with his headteacher at Holloway School, Bob Hamlyn

Dieter Perry

The family of knife victim Ben Kinsella have opened a powerful exhibition which they say stands as the murdered teenager’s “legacy”.

Ben’s sister Brooke, the former EastEnders star, his parents George and Deborah and the charity set up in his memory have launched a show designed to help steer schoolchildren away from knife and gang crime.

Titled The Ben Kinsella Trust Knife Crime Awareness Exhibition, it is based at City North in Fonthill Road, Finsbury Park. It is hoped it will make a strong impression on those who might be tempted to pick up a weapon.

On an emotional evening at the launch last Wednesday, Brooke, who became a prominent campaigner following her 16-year-old brother’s death in 2008, spoke of her hopes for what has been years in the making.

The MBE recipient, 29, said: “Basically this is Ben’s legacy. We have worked on this for four years since we lost Ben. We set up the trust but we didn’t want to rush.

“Our aims are education and prevention. We think you need to get in as early as possible to show kids the consequences.

“We hope that if a young person who comes here ever gets to the point where they think about picking up that knife, they will think back to what they have seen and make a different choice.”

Many primary and secondary schools in Islington are already signed up for tours, with 36 Year Five children from New North Academy in Popham Road, Islington, the first to visit.

It runs until March and is due to welcome more than 300 children a week – aged from nine to 16.

George said: “It’s a legacy for our son Ben’s murder. We hope it will change kids’ minds when carrying knives and dangerous weapons.”

Youngsters are taken through a series of rooms featuring artwork by Ben, a Holloway School pupil who was an aspiring graphic designer, stories from people who have been affected by knife crime, and even a remarkable piece of creative writing by Ben imagining his own knife death written just months before he died.

The centrepiece is a cinema room where a film intersperses the attack in New North Road, Holloway, taken from CCTV, with Ben’s family speaking openly about their loss and the moment when they learned he had been stabbed.

Mr Kinsella added: “It’s very hard to see the exhibition. Every time any of our family walk around, it brings it back as if it was yesterday.”

Visitors are also ushered into a mock-up of a cell where an actor plays a young man locked up on “joint enterprise” grounds – simply because he was with his “mates” when they stabbed someone.

Ben’s mother Deborah said: “It’s very emotional, we have all been working hard for the last three years. We believe Ben left us a legacy to help keep other children safe.”

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