Earlier this summer, a documentary series called 'Bradford on Duty' aired on the BBC. The series highlighted the massive challenges facing the public services in one of the UK's youngest cities. With nearly 30% of its population, Bradford needs Urban Saints to be there for its young people.
Pam Kershaw joined the Urban Saints team in 2019 as an Impact Team Leader focusing on working with the community to see new Groups launched within Bradford. The key areas highlighted in the documentary series are where we have been investing a lot of time. The street, Pollard Lane, where the young police officer was injured (see episode 3) is the same road we have been running our BD3 Safehouse Urban Saints Group and the location of the high school, Carlton Bolling. The community garden at Attock Park is where we have been doing outreach and community building, opening doors for the local church to be present in the notorious places and spaces:
"I (Pam) personally live a five-minute drive from these locations and I strongly believe that where the church stands united, we will see transformation and change. As Muhammed Fazal Dad, a local Imman and school teacher said, it takes all five fingers to take a grip of the situation and that it takes a village to raise a child.
I am reminded of scripture in Hebrews 10 (35-39).
"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, in just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith and I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back. But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved."
Not to take this scripture out of context but to take strength from its call, we need to persevere.
We have the permission for the wellbeing garden to be developed but need further funds to develop the site for a longstanding liminal space to be created to generate opportunity for fantastic conversations with the local young people and community. If this space was up and running effectively, we would be more visually and practically at the very heart of where we are needed to support young people.
What the programme didn't present is the healthy culture of achievement, resilience and respect that is growing in the local high school. Urban Saints have committed from the start to being a key part of the 'BD3 Unite' working partnership founded in September 2020. This is a partnership meeting for community leads to work with the police and statutory services to see the public have confidence and support in reporting and tackling crime. The partnership aims to see real, lasting change in the community, encouraging care for its environment which in turn will reduce crime and increase engagement for young people. We have chaired and co-chaired the majority of these 'BD3 Unite' meetings and recently the partnership won a West Yorkshire Policing Award.
I encourage you to keep Bradford in your prayers and also that what may be presented as despair, God has us placed for such a time as this. If you can support financially or in any way please do reach out."
Pam Kershaw, Impact Team Leader (North of England)
*Main photo copyright: BBC
The documentary series also focuses on the particularly difficult period around Bonfire Night - scene of high levels of antisocial behaviour across Bradford.You can read more about the prayer initiative that has been developed around this in previous years.