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Knife crime: calls for churches to be havens for youths

KNIFE CRIME RESPONSE: Reverend Canon Dr Rosemarie Mallett

CHURCHES SHOULD offer young people at risk of knife crime and serious violence refuge, Reverend Canon Dr Rosemarie Mallett will tell the Church of England next month.

Mallett, a south London priest and prominent anti-knife crime campaigner, will speak about how the church can respond to the issue of serious youth violence and help young people affected by it at the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Dr Mallett said: “We must work with other organisations to find the best way to support young people in our parishes and our schools, and to be part of the solution to the challenges - not only of serious youth violence but the whole issue of young people who fall through the system.

“One way that churches can help is to provide safe havens for young people.

“This isn’t necessarily about running youth clubs, in many cases this may simply be providing a place where they can go, relax and feel safe, especially during the period immediately after school hours when flashpoints can occur.”

Mallett will lead the debate on combating knife crime in which she will urge parishes to open their doors after school and call on church leaders to receive training to equip them to support individuals, families and communities affected by serious youth violence.

The introduction of knife amnesty bins will be among the practical measures she will propose. Mallett will also detail the “unique spiritual dimension” churches and church leaders can provide through prayer and pastoral support.

Serious youth violence will be one of the major issues discussed at the General Synod when it meets at York University between Friday July 5 and Tuesday July 9.

In addition to the knife crime debate, members learn of plans to provide extra funds to dioceses in England to increase the number of priesthood candidates and will hear a presidential address from the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

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