Senior Black Church Leaders visit Lozells

In the wake of recent violence and deaths against a background of ethnic tension in the area, senior members of the Council of Black Led Churches will be visiting Lozells on the afternoon of Friday 8 December 2006. Led by Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, they will be meeting local faith and community leaders to hear first hand what it is like to live and work in Lozells. Council members will receive a presentation from the West Midlands Mediation and Transformation Service, about the underlying causes of the violence. They will also hear from other organisations and individuals that are working to bring peace and prosperity to the area. Insights gained from this and future meetings will be fed back to community, faith groups and the City Council.

Bishop Aldred, Chair of the Council of Black Led Churches said, ‘our understanding is that the main victims and perpetrators of this tragic situation are between the ages of 15-25 years old, and that multiple deprivation, underachievement, gangs with guns and knives, and the trade in and use of drugs are at the core of this tragic situation. We wonder too if a breakdown in good morals and discipline are in part to blame’.

The Council has been told that whilst there are many projects and programmes doing good work in the area, people are afraid, emotionally tired, and feeling disillusioned. The overwhelming majority wish to live in peace with their neighbours whatever their faith, ethnicity or culture. The delegation is therefore keen to highlight and encourage the sterling work already being done as well as to explore with local people, especially faith leaders, what more need to be done by statutory, private and voluntary sector organisations.

Pastor Calvin Young, Vice Chair of the Council of Black Led Churches said, ‘This is an important time in the life of Lozells and it is vital that we all take a stand against the violence that is so harmful to local communities. I hope that by meeting together we will begin to heal the pain and work together to build a brighter and safer future for our children, young and older people who are by far the most affected by this present situation’.

The Council is keen to encourage ongoing multi-faith, multi-ethnic and intergenerational conversations and sees Friday’s meeting as the first of a number of visits to the area by senior Black clergy. In the coming weeks they will focus on visiting local schools as well as youth projects. Their message is that all human beings are created equal in the image of God and that we can and must get along together to make Lozells and Birmingham a peaceful and prosperous place for all.

Bishop Aldred said, ‘the challenges faced in an area like Lozells are great, but not insurmountable and in our quest to move forward we must not allow the few to destabilise the many. We must work to make criminal activities morally unacceptable and we call upon anyone with information that can assist the police with their current enquiries to do so immediately. The law-abiding citizens of Lozells and the city are crying out for a better way. Let’s work together to achieve it’.

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