When you think of Devon, I expect the kind of thing that comes into your head are cream teas, rolling hills, beautiful beaches, tractors, and Ambrosia custard.
… To be honest, we do have more of that than in many other parts of the country.
As well as the hills and streams, the tourism and the sunshine, like many places in the UK we are also experiencing painfully high levels of deprivation.
The problem with poverty is that it never exists on its own and in my experience brings with it disillusionment, despair, anger, depleted aspirations, violence, broken relationships, crime and the like.
Across South Devon over the last few years has been a monitored spike in anti-social behavior and criminal activity amongst young people. This has led to specific concerns relating to emerging gangs and the country’s first gang injunction.
Since September I have worked with a team of volunteers to spend time at the parks where young people hang out in order to be a presence and offer positive activities as an alternative.
Our team has used sport as an engagement tool and delivered sessions twice a week in order to build relationships and make a difference.
Many of the young people that we connect with are known to the police and can display challenging behavior. Our sessions take place in areas that are identified as being amongst the most deprived 5% in the UK.
Our hope is that all of these young people would lead full lives and believe that finding a deep, real faith in Jesus is a game changer. I was reminded by a friend recently that the ‘law can only legislate… it cannot change hearts or culture.’
Please pray for our volunteers, the police, council, and wider communities — but as a priority please pray for the young people that we engage with; those who might struggle to go to or stay in school, those whose start in life may have been hard, painful and damaging. Please pray for their future—that it will be full of grace, love, and peace.
I live and breathe the wonderful sea air of the English Riviera in Torbay, Devon.
I joined the Scripture Union staff team in January 2018 and am enjoying developing the work with the South West regional team, getting to know the mission and ministry of SU and making contact with SU supporters in the region.
The area where I invest most of my energy is from Plymouth to Exeter and everything in between.
- Church & Community