Website to tackle serious youth violence

November 5, 2020

The Synergy Network (SN), a growing coalition of churches, para-church groups and Christian agencies working to end Serious Youth Violence (SYV) in Britain and Ireland, is launching a new website on 1 December 2020 that draws together all the Christian programmes, projects, resources and activities combatting SYV.

The website launch will take place in a webinar from 3pm to 5pm on 1 December, and will feature presentations from the Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, senior Met Police Officer, Jeff Boothe and a Deputy Mayor from City Hall. The SN is also inviting anyone involved in combatting SYV to hear how they can work together to stamp out an activity that is ruining so many lives.

The SN comprises of organisations that came together to host the ground-breaking “Standing Together day of Prayer and Action” rally on Trafalgar Square, London on Saturday 6 April 2019. This gathering was a call to action for churches to stand alongside those affected by violent crime in Britain. Since that momentous day, it has followed this up with events involving church leaders, youth workers and young people.

SN chair, Bishop Lenford Rowe comments: ‘This website is the first hub to capture all the excellent church-related work that is taking place to tackle a scourge that is plaguing far too many towns and cities. I am aware that only a joined-up endeavour will end SYV, and I believe this website will enable those involved in this most vital work to better coordinate their activities.’

Website features

The new website will also enable anyone to find information or access resources on all aspects of SYV, such as statistics and practical advice and information. It also includes resources on how individuals can get involved in this work, and the best ways to do this.

Les Isaac, CEO of the Ascension Trust and a founder member of the SN adds: ‘This website is being launched at a vital time; we had the lockdown which saw a slight decrease in SYV, but also witnessed increased pressures on young people and their families from a social and financial perspective. Without increased, coordinated support at this time, more of our young, vulnerable people could find themselves succumbing to activities that are devastating lives and communities across the country.’

His words are echoed by Revd Stephen Coulson, the vicar of St Marks Church, Kennington and the Venerable Dr Rosemarie Mallett, Archdeacon of Croydon, who are both veterans in the work to address SYV in south London. Revd Coulson points out, ‘A website like this can identify who and where support or advice can be obtained if you are concerned about a vulnerable young person. Often, there is a desire to do something, but no guidance on how best to do this.’ Revd Dr Mallett adds, ‘It’s vital that we connect those who are doing excellent work with those who need support. This website will fill the existing void, enabling the establishment of partnerships, relationships and collaborative activities.’

One of the website’s unique features is a searchable database that enables anyone to locate organisations, projects and individuals tackling SYV in their area. The website lists over one hundred organisations, but as Richard Reddie, Director of Justice and Inclusion at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, who led on website development, points out, ‘We know that this is only a segment of what is taking place around the country. After the launch, we expect to be contacted by groups wanting to have a presence on the website.’

Over the last few years, the Government has adopted the much-vaunted, public health approach to SYV, which was successfully pioneered in Glasgow, and involves a multiagency methodology. Often, churches are not factored into this equation, despite the fact that they are doing excellent work in communities up and down the country, especially with their youth workers.

Bola Ojo, Vice Chair of the SN argues: ‘Often, Christian organisations and churches don’t like to say too much about their activities – they tend to be too modest in that respect. I believe this needs to change as their work is saving lives and people need to find out more about their successful activities.’

Gareth Jones from London City Mission, another founding member adds: ‘I would like to encourage anyone who is involved in combatting SYV to join us, and our guest speakers on 1 December at 3pm to find out more about the website and how they can be part of the SN’s activities. As we say, we are stronger together.’

Website launch

To attend the website launch or to find out more about the SN, please contact: Julaine Hedman, phone 020 8330 2809.

Notes

  • The Synergy Network (SY) is a growing coalition of churches, para-church groups, Christian agencies and organisations working to end serious youth violence in Britain and Ireland.
  • The founding churches/organisations are: The Ascension Trust, London City Mission, The Church of God of Prophecy, The Diocese of Southwark (including St Marks, Kennington) and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
  • It is based at the offices of the Ascension Trust in Morden, Surrey.
  • Its Chair is Bishop Lenford Rowe, a former senior Bishop with the Church of God of Prophecy.
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