The Synergy Network website launch
One of the few positives to come from the first COVID-19 lockdown was the reduction in incidences of serious youth violence (SYV) in Britain and Ireland. Unfortunately, as we came out of lockdown the numbers began to increase once again. Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is part of the growing Synergy Network (SN) which encourages churches, community groups and individuals to address SYV via prayer and action.
After a successful 2019, which saw the hosting of the groundbreaking ‘Day of Prayer and Action’ at the iconic Trafalgar Square, and subsequent gatherings involving key church leaders and youthwork practitioners, our activities in 2020, much like a lot events, were stymied by COVID-19. The Network held a prayer breakfast for youth workers prior to lockdown and followed this up with two further online gatherings, one of which was with young people who spoke about their experiences during lockdown.
One key tool in tackling SYV will be the Synergy Network: Churches and Communities Taking a Stand website. Launched on 1 December, this digital resource is the only online portal that maps all church-related responses to serious youth violence in the four nations and is a platform for those wishing to engage in these activities or wanting to find out more. There is currently nothing available that captures the full gamut of church-related initiatives, programmes or resources, which means Christians often fail to collaborate or develop partnerships that will see them work more impactfully.
One of the website’s unique features is a searchable database that enables anyone to locate organisations, projects and individuals tackling SYV in their area. The website lists over one hundred organisations, but as Director of Justice and Inclusion at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Richard Reddie, who led on website development, points out, ‘We know that this is only a segment of what is taking place around the country. After the launch, we expect to be contacted by groups wanting to have a presence on the website.’
Most experts agree that only a joined-up, multi-agency approach will tackle SYV, and this website will be a further step for churches in playing their part in this solution. As well as providing information about funding opportunities from the statutory and voluntary sector, the website also disseminates information on training courses, seminars, discussions and other such events. It is also a space for conversation via discussion forums, blogs, and articles, as well as providing a list of resources for Bible study, prayer and reflection.
To find out more about the Synergy Network see: wearesynergy.org.uk