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House of Commons Hansard
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Church Commissioners
20 June 2019
Volume 662

The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Serious Youth Violence

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1. What steps the Church of England is taking to help tackle serious youth violence; and if she will make a statement. [911477]

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7. What steps the Church of England is taking to help tackle serious youth violence; and if she will make a statement. [911484]

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The Church was represented at the knife crime summit organised by the Prime Minister at No. 10 earlier this year, and the General Synod will be debating this subject at its session next month. There is no question but that this issue is of the utmost seriousness, as too many young lives are being lost.

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I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Youth violence is often a symptom of a lack of role models and moral leaders. What part does she feel the Church can play to help communities in this area?

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I think it is very well known that the Church provides role models for young people, such as youth workers. In the community, we work alongside young people in schools, youth groups and congregations. Our clergy, teachers and members of our congregations are supporting young people who are at risk of getting caught up in violence and their families, and young people in pupil referral units.

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My constituent Ben Lindsay recently set up Power the Fight, a charity that enables churches to become part of the solution to tackling youth violence. The period after school is one of the most dangerous times for violence among young people. Churches have resources, buildings and volunteers that Power the Fight believes could be used to disrupt violence and keep young people safe. Will the right hon. Lady meet me and my constituent to talk about this valuable work?

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I am very happy to meet the hon. Lady, who will know that the Church uses its community halls and facilities in particular to reach out to young people. There are a number of examples of that, but may I especially cite the work of Premier Christian Radio, which broadcasts from London? It has raised awareness of youth violence and what the Church can do to help. We are certainly active in this area, and I would be happy to meet her.

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Will my right hon. Friend join me in praising the work of street pastors, including those active in Kettering, who often find themselves helping to defuse potentially violent situations in our town centres late at night?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to pay tribute to the work of street pastors. In Birmingham, the nearest city to my constituency, I have gone out with street pastors at night and seen them minister to very vulnerable young people, making sure they are safe on their streets. The street pastors do amazing work.

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I thank the right hon. Lady for her response. Will she outline the benefits that church-run youth clubs provide, and has she had discussions with the Chancellor to secure additional funding for faith-based youth clubs?

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I think I have been outlining that. The Church actually provides youth workers in our communities where many have fallen away, and it continues to support the presence of such role models in our society, as is recognised by the Government. I could give the hon. Gentleman a whole series of examples of how the Government’s community fund is being used, through churches, to deliver knife crime awareness training and to help to tackle this problem. Indeed, many churches provide amnesty boxes for weapons that may otherwise cause people to lose their lives.

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As the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) is a member of Kettering Borough Council and also a special constable, my only surprise is that he does not serve as a street pastor, but that may be only a matter of time.

Clergy Recruitment: London

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2. What steps the Church of England has taken to recruit clergy in London in the last 12 months. [911479]

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London presents a very positive picture in the life of the Church for the recruitment of clergy. The Church set itself a target to increase the number of vocations in all dioceses by 50% by next year. Most dioceses are well on track, and London expects to reach that target this year.

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I welcome that great news on recruitment in London. A year ago three of our major parishes in Fulham had vacancies, but in April I was delighted to attend the induction of Rev. Ross Gunderson at St Etheldreda. Next Wednesday will be the induction of Rev. Penny Seabrook at All Saints, and we hope soon to fill the vacancy at St John Walham Green. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating and welcoming our new clergy in Fulham?

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With pleasure—I wish all those incumbents great success in their new parishes. That demonstrates that the commitment to more training for vocations is really working, and I should share with the House the fact that there is now a 50:50 ratio of men and women in training.