Synergy Network Calls On Churches To Redouble Their Efforts To Tackle Serious Youth Violence 

Synergy Network calls on churches to redouble their efforts to tackle serious youth violence after the senseless killings of two teenagers in southeast London

The Synergy Network is calling on churches in Britain and Ireland to do more to tackle serious youth violence (SYV), after the senseless, knife-related killings of two teenagers on 26 November 2022. The two victims, Kearne Solanke and Charlie Bartolo, both 16, were stabbed to death just a mile apart in southeast London. The police, who suggests the murders were linked, have arrested a teenager in relation to the deaths.

Bishop Lenford Rowe, Chair of the Synergy Network, commented:

As a society we must do more to end the mindless killing of our young people. My heart goes out to the families and friends of these teenagers, who had their whole lives ahead of them. To lose a family member under those circumstances must be unbearable, but this tragedy serves to reveal the appalling reality of serious youth violence in this country. As a Christian and regular church attender, I am calling on our churches to get involved in the work to keep our young people safe.

The Synergy Network is a growing coalition of churches, para-church groups, Christian agencies and organisations working to end SYV in Britain and Ireland, by raising awareness of this appalling phenomenon, and encouraging organisations and groups to take action. As such, it provides resources for those with a desire to engage, and encourages joined-up engagement among those already involved in this work. Finally, it equips the church to speak with one voice on this issue and facilitates links between them and government, civil society organisations and others.

Since it was established in 2019, the Network has hosted a number of activities and events that have not only drawn greater attention to the problem of SYV, but have also provided platforms and resources that have enabled churches and Christians to be changemakers. However, since that time, Britain, London in particular, has witnessed a massive surge in knife-related killings, as well as life-changing injuries. Last year, London saw 30 teenage stabbing homicides, the worst on record; this year the number is in the high teens.  

Bishop Rowe adds: Knives are ruining lives, and destroying communities. Churches must take their places alongside the police, community groups, social services and others to ensure there is a joined-up, coordinated approach to tackling SYV. We can’t just pray the problem away; we need to take action! We need to keep our young people safe!

While SYV may appear out of control, the positive news is that there are churches and parachurch groups that are making a difference in the work to address this scourge. However, as the Synergy Network points out, they need the support of their peers if their work is to really make a massive difference.

Bishop Rowe ends by saying,

We all need to stand together to tackle SYV. I’m proud of the work carried out by Christian organisations and groups in this area. It’s not easy work, but its work that must be done if we want to do right by our young people, and be faithful to the gospel. So, I’m urging all church folk to do the right thing on SYV!

The Synergy Network’s website: https://wearesynergy.org.uk/  lists a number of excellent organisations that tackle all aspects of SYV in Britain and Ireland. Information about these groups can be found at: https://wearesynergy.org.uk/projects/

Signed on behalf of the Synergy Board by

Bishop Lenford Rowe, Chairperson of the Synergy Network

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