The Synergy Network (SN) is a coalition of churches and para-church organisations committed to tackling serious youth violence (SYV). The SN works with key organisations through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which captures the essence of its relationship – focusing on roles, responsibilities, governance, accountability, best practice and financial arrangements. To date, this includes the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), the Diocese of Southwark and London City Mission. The MOU also provides guidelines for other organisations that may wish to join SN.
Its modus operandi is to:
•Raise awareness among churches, para-church groups and individual (Christians) of serious youth violence and encourage them to work together to address this issue.
•Resource those with a desire to engage in activities to combat SYV by encouraging conversations between churches and practitioners.
•Help the Church speak with one voice on this issue as well as facilitate links between them and Government, civil society organisations and others.
This is what we’ve done
There was a perception that churches had not been engaged (alongside government, local authorities, civil society groups and others) in tackling the issue of SYV. The SN sought to correct this by providing a platform for churches to stand together to address SYV.
On 6 April 2019, it organised a rally, the Churches Standing Together: Day of Prayer and Action at Trafalgar Square, central London, at which the churches showed solidarity with those affected by SYV and pledged themselves to engage with the issue. Participants included key church leaders from across the Christian faith. At this event, SN asked churches to make their buildings available after school, have knife bins at hotspots and prioritise youthwork. It also agreed to create a website that would coordinate all church-related activities, as well as organise an event for churches and practitioners.
Following the rally, SN met with senior church leaders in London on 8 May 2019, which was titled ‘Synergy Senior Leaders’ Summit’. Those who attended completed a questionnaire in which it was made clear that they wanted the SN to focus on ‘Schools/education’, ‘Mentoring’, ‘Youthwork’, ‘Family Support’ and ‘Resources’. On 4 July 2019, the SN met with practitioners tackling SYV to glean their views, obtain their buy-in, and provide them with an update on activities.
This is what we’re planning to do
The SN hosted a virtual youth practitioners event on 22 June 2020 that brought together those organisations and individuals who have been working with vulnerable young people, to speak about their experiences during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Synergy Network recognises that combatting SYV will take many years and that all responses must have a ‘short’, ‘medium’ and ‘long’ term approach. We can only end SYV by working together. Whether you’re not sure what to do, or want to work alongside those who are doing this, please contact us here to join with us.
Revd Canon Steve Coulson
St Mark’s Kennington
CEO of Ascension Trust
CEO of London City Mission
General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain & Ireland
Bishop Tedroy Powell
National Presiding Bishop at the Church of God of Prophecy Trust (U.K.)
Bishop of Southwark