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/ 11 June 2020

Edmonton Area County Lines training with Leo Powell

Nigel Taylor, Area Director of Ministry for Edmonton, tells us about a recent training event. 

On Tuesday June 9th Edmonton Area hosted a webinar with Leo Powell about the impact County Lines drug gangs can have on young people’s lives, especially in North London. He taught us the language of drug gangs, the way they operate, and how children as young as 11 or 12 and even younger – who are often looking for security, status, belonging and self-esteem through gangs – can get groomed by gifts, lifestyle or social media into carrying drugs to rural communities.

Leo gave clues parents can look for to see if children are being groomed, from new clothes or an extra mobile phone, to unexplained absences and changing attitudes at home. The challenge was for parents to spend more time with their children, and not to let work prevent quality time with them, as well as other strategies.

Though the webinar was for those in Edmonton, through Leo’s contacts others from Yorkshire, Cardiff, Liverpool and Bournemouth, working with young people, were present. The chat on zoom was full of people – police, social workers, teachers, lecturers and researchers, as well as church leaders – connecting with each other, and sharing ideas across the country about best practice. Leo suggested that often gangs targeted the person who was on their own, and isolated, as ripe for grooming, and it is why churches and communities need to be places where the isolated and alone (and especially children) are enfolded into community, as Jesus himself described the good shepherd as the one who left the ninety-nine to go and find the one who was lost.

Bishop Rob said:

“The training was insightful, powerful and essential for anyone with a heart for keeping children and young people safe. This learning will help clergy and churches be much more aware of the issues surrounding County Lines, grooming and drug misuse”.

Leo is an experienced trainer and facilitator in the area of County Lines, and has developed a comprehensive training programme that he delivers in primary and secondary schools, organisations, churches, practitioners, parents, youth workers and more. He is also a Pastoral Support Officer at St Ignatius College in Enfield. Find out more on Leo’s website.

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