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Churches told to open doors after school to tackle knife crime

Fatal stabbings in England and Wales reached record levels last year, as the number of young people killed by knives rose by nearly 50 per cent according to the Office for National Statistics.

The Church of England has placed knife crime at the top of the agenda as it gathers for the General Synod next month.

Rev Canon Dr Rosemarie Mallett, a priest in Angell Town, south London will submit a motion, calling on local parishes to provide after school safe havens in an effort to combat youth violence across the country.

Speaking to Premier, she said: "In almost every area of England, there is a parish church.

"So a simple suggestion is that during the hours between three and seven, when situations might occur for young people, is it possible to have buildings open and to have them flag that as being open as places of welcoming and sanctuary for young people."

She added that the Anglican Church should be working together with local authorities to provide support: "It is not a simple problem of violence or criminality. It's a whole public health model, where we have to look at schools and exclusions where we have to look at family related issues, increasing levels of gang activity and violence as well."

"If we can work within our schools to bring exclusions down, to stop off rolling as much as possible, and to find solutions within the school for the challenges that young people are facing, we give them a better possibility for the future."

Rev Mallett's plans will also propose training for clergy to protect vulnerable teens and the provision of knife amnesty bins as further options to tackle the issue.

Members will also hear details of plans to provide extra money to help the Church of England dioceses fund more training for those looking to enter priesthood.

The move follows a 23 per cent rise in the number of people training for ordained ministry in the last two years, a key step forward in the Church of England's programme of Renewal and Reform.

Synod will also discuss the rise of new forms of church gatherings known as Fresh Expressions and the Setting God's People Free programme, aimed at helping lay people to be confident in living out their faith in homes, schools, communities and places of work.

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