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Breaking County Lines 

County Lines is one of the most prevalent forms of modern slavery in our country - and the church has a 'vital role to play' in the fight against it. New training will equip it to do so

Breaking County Lines800

County lines is becoming one of the most prevalent forms of modern slavery in our country. Drugs gangs make huge profits from exploiting the most vulnerable - usually children and young people - who are targeted, groomed, manipulated and coerced into drug trafficking and distribution.

Sadly, the very nature of county lines - using children and young people to move drugs out of cities and into smaller towns and communities - means that it is happening all around the country in communities of all types.

Churches are being encouraged to understand the part they can play in combatting it. Breaking County Lines from The Clewer Initative is designed as a resource to enable churches and communities to understand and raise awareness of the scale of the problem and spot the signs of its presence. It also looks at ways of building resilience in our communities with an emphasis on the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

(The Clewer Initiative enables Church of England dioceses and wider Church networks to develop strategies to detect modern slavery in their communities.)

To help the strengthen the course's reach, The Clewer Initiative is running a "Breaking County Lines Train the Trainer Course" in the new year (26 January, 2 February and 9 February from 7-9pm.) The course is particularly suited to those working with children and young people.

The Train the Trainer course seeks to equip leaders who would like to run their own Breaking County Lines Training within their communities. Participants will be encouraged to adapt the material to their own context and to initiate the formation of an action group to undertake practical initiatives to help raise awareness and build community resilience. 

Jackie Mouradian and Bill Crooks of Wokingham Baptist Church are running the sessions on behalf of The Clewer Initiative.

Jackie said, 'County Lines is a £500m business and is run on a highly sophisticated commercial model which can only be defeated by communities and statutory bodies working together.

'Into this the church has a vital role to play  in strengthening community relations and emphasising the support and protection of children and young people most at risk.'  

Jackie said that verses from Psalm 10 will be used as a biblical reflection in the course.

Why does the wicked man revile God?
    Why does he say to himself,
    “He won’t call me to account”?
 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.

Psalm 10:13-14

Participants will come away from the course with a resource pack containing all the materials needed to run Breaking County Lines within their communities with young people or those working with youth and the vulnerable.

The resource pack will include powerpoint presentations, session outlines and all additional resources used in the course.

In 2019 Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield highlighted the devastating nature of the issue. 

‘The criminal gangs operating in England are complex and ruthless organisations, using sophisticated techniques to groom children and chilling levels of violence to keep them compliant. They prey upon marginalised children who have often been let down by multiple agencies.

'Many of these children don’t feel that they have any choice about their situation.'

This BBC report also gives an insight into the impact of county lines.


Baptist Times, 10/12/2020
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