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Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash
Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash
UK News

'I think they will have a huge influence': Church pastors enlisted by Nottinghamshire police to visit prison cells

by Lydia Davies

Church pastors have been enlisted by Nottinghamshire Police to mentor young detainees, primarily within local black communities, with the aim to steer them towards positive life changes.

The scheme, named the Race Action Plan, seeks to bridge the trust gap between law enforcement and the black community and has been described by the Nottinghamshire police force as "groundbreaking."

In an interview with BBC News Nottinghamshire chief superintendent Suk Verma, who is leading the scheme said: "I've seen at first hand the amount of kudos and power that black pastors hold within their communities. Young people and old people alike listen to every word they say, it is very impactful to observe, and I think they will have a huge influence in this environment."

Dr Ezekiel Alawale from The Majority Black Led Churches Leadership is collaborating with the scheme. He told Premier Christian News: "There is a big number of black young people (in the cells) and that gives us a big concern." He explained how "these young people... are very distressed, they're very troubled and they're lonely. So that's why we offer for people to be there with mentors in their lives."

Ch supt Verma further emphasised the potential of this programme to BBC News : "To me success would look like one person coming into the custody suite and changing their lives forever...If we can transform one person's life, then we have succeeded but my aim is not to transform one person's life, but many people's lives."

Joe Nimpah, who is a pastor at a Vineyard Church in Nottingham is part of the programme. He told the news outlet: "Custody provides an opportunity for young people to reflect on their lives and consider whether they are going to make changes."

Echoing this sentiment, local street pastor Hya Francis-Watson said: "Young people tend to feel they are not being listened to, so as a pastoral visitor we can help them to express themselves, feel at ease and know that their time in here is a time to reflect. Perhaps to look at doing something different with their lives rather than going back to where they were."


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