Earlier this year Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) with support from the London Christian Police Family (LCPF) launched a young people’s mentoring scheme in Lambeth in South London. The ROC Mentors programme which is now mid-way through its 12 month programme, sees volunteers receive nationally accredited training and ongoing support, and is delivered in partnership with the Metropolitan Police, the local authority, Lambeth churches and other key agencies. It aims to provide ‘one to one’ mentoring support to young people, divert them away from becoming involved in street gangs and show them there’s a better way to live their lives.
The issue of gangs and the serious youth violence that goes with it, continues to be a big problem in London. Since 2005, there has been a total of 184 young people murdered on London’s streets, the most recent in Islington on 23rd November this year. The high profile and tragic murders of the brother of Eastenders star Brooke Kinsella grabbed national media headlines back in 2008, as did the murder of Jimmy Mizen who was attacked and stabbed to death in a bakers shop the same year. But the reality is, that with knife crime on the rise across the UK these terrible incidents are still happening all too frequently. Sadly at times, many of them, particular in London now hardly get a mention in the media.
However, as we know, the issue of knife crime is not peculiar to London. We have seen young people killed and seriously injured from knives in other parts of the U.K. In fact knife crime has risen by 13% across the country and by 18% in London in the last year.
In Lambeth, one of the Met Police’s priority areas for gangs, ROC has helped to support the community in tacking this issue, having recruited and trained 10 volunteer mentors from local churches across Lambeth. To date, we have received a total of 8 referrals, some of whom we have matched whilst there are more are in the pipeline. Once matched, the mentors work with those young people and support them for a 6-12 month period.
Sgt Graham Norman the Metropolitan Police’s Safer Schools coordinator and LCPF ambassador commented ‘Young people are desperate for positive role models, but so often they have no one who is there for them when they really need it. The trigger point for referrals can be when young people are excluded from school. We know that excluded youngsters are five times more likely to end up in prison later in life, so this ROC Mentors project is vital in terms of providing support for young people when they need it most.’
Please do pray for the success of this scheme using the below points. If you would like to know more about ROC Mentors and how your church or local community could start a mentoring scheme to support young people in your area, contact ROC’s South East coordinator Paul Wilson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
In particular, please pray for:
- Young people caught up in gangs, for change in their lives and for them to see a way out
- The local ROC Mentoring Coordinator in Lambeth, as she seeks to match young people with the right mentors
- ROC Volunteers from churches across Lambeth, for wisdom and understanding as they give up their time to mentor young people
- An end to gang culture and the cycle of violence that continues to rob so many young people of their lives