A positive response - riot clean ups
In the face of extreme violence, copycat crime, looting and fear, there have been scenes during the daytime seeing volunteers turn up with brushes, gloves and shovels to be part of the riot clean ups across London, the West Midlands and Manchester. Christians are playing their part to contradict negative stereotypes of young people and proving that we can bring hope back to broken communities.
Local people are coming together to clean up their streets, make tea and thank the Police and Fire Brigade and reclaim the streets following violence and looting. A real sense of community spirit is being shown, most of it organised via social media, to make a stand against the crimes.
Roy Crowne, Director of HOPE said: “Many of these rioting teenagers and young people desperately need hope and a purpose. This can only be found in Jesus. We know that we have a powerful God and that prayer can change situations. Let’s pray and be the ones who respond, act, persevere and never give up on our villages, towns and cities. What is happening in response with the clean ups and assistance is brilliant and the Church is playing its part. Now is the time to share love with people and pull together to restore hope in damaged communities.”
Message Trust founder Andy Hawthorne said: "There are a few hundred kids who were rioting which was absolutely gutting and devastating but there are also many many young people - half a million teenagers in Greater Manchester with good will. We've seen this kind of thing in smaller pockets of the city and we've stepped up prayer. We started to work with the toughest kids and we've seen God turn it around and we believe it will happen again."
Positive news reports are now coming through:
BBC News - Manchester clean ups
Sky News - UK Clean ups
BBC News - Brooms are the resistance
Metro - Birmingham community clean up
Frontline Church in Liverpool's Youth worker Johnny Pettman said: "Young people are not an enemy to be feared but their environment has poisoned their actions. They are living in the darkness and the only cure for darkness is light. Light in the form of love, hope and belief. If we don't believe in the young people and show them that they are of worth and value then how can we expect them to be different?"
Churches around affected areas have been responding. As shops and businesses in London closed early for fear of violence on Tuesday, around 400 people attended a prayer meeting at Ruach Ministries church in Kilburn, London with 9,000 street pastors around the UK also praying at the same time.
Birmingham City Mission (BCM) has continued to try and run their projects for the vulnerable in the city but last night had to shut their regular homeless food service. The staff were on the streets of Birmingham in the day yesterday following Monday night's violence talking to groups of people fearful from events.
Said Wes Erpen from BCM: "In the day we mingled with those on the streets. We do this every week but in view of what had happened we were listening to people's fears from what had occurred. We need to pray and go into the city and engage with people who are hurting but the real need in this situation is ultimately for the gospel."
HOPE is encouraging local people to get involved in the clean up, to pray and bring hope to our country which is currently being dubbed as 'hopeless'. There is always hope.