Organisers of an anti-violent crime conference being held in Brixton on Saturday have welcomed the Archbishop of York’s comments that the Church of England should be reaching out to young people in knife crime.
During his address to the Church of England's General Synod the Archbishop referred to his conversations with a former gang member from Birmingham life had been transformed through the Christian message: "He said to me: 'what you must do is to get us, young people, to feel better about ourselves. Help us to achieve confidence about ourselves without needing the dangerous prop of a knife. Help us not to judge ourselves in the eyes of others. Stop viewing us through the eyes of failure. Help us to overcome self-loathing. Your job is to stop the merry-go-round of our culture of immediacy by providing us with hope and long-term solutions to our longing for belonging. To us all the brave talk and actions of adults towards young people are similar to the gang culture. We are not all bad."
His comments were welcomed by Bite the Bullet, an event jointly organised by the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB)and Street Pastors, aims to increase awareness around factors that lead to knife and gun crime, to help young people resist it, and equip church leaders to support young people in a violent world.
Wale Hudson-Roberts, BUGB Racial Justice Co-ordinator and one of the organisers of Bite the Bullet, believes that Dr John Sentamu’s comments should be taken on board by all Christians.
“Finding a solution to gun and knife crime is not only the responsibility of the Church of England, the Baptist Union or any particular denomination" he said.
"It is the responsibility of all Christians to engage with young people, to listen to their needs and show viable alternatives to gang culture and violence, that there is another, more positive way to live. We all should be praying and working together towards a safer society for young people to grow up in.”
Les Isaac, founder of Street Pastors, believes that Bite the Bullet will enable those that attend to understand the issues and formulate a plan of action.
"Much good work is already being done by church youth workers, by organisations to tackle the issue, and Bite the Bullet will give us the opportunity to share that work and come up with new ideas. It needs to be more than discussion, it must lead to action. If Bite the Bullet is just a talking shop then it will have been a waste of time.”
Bite the Bullet takes place this Saturday (12 July) from 1030-2100 at Brixton Baptist Church, Solon Road, Brixton. For more information visit http://www.bitethebullet.info