This week’s film in our year long campaign to tell our story here in the Diocese of Leeds visits the United Parish of Keighley and looks at how they responded as a church when crisis came to their community.
Last year 12 Keighley men were jailed for more than 140 years between them for the sexual abuse of one child in the town. Earlier this year, West Yorkshire Police announced it was investigating 180 new child sex cases in its Bradford District, which includes Keighley.
The arrests and trial of the 12 men in Keighley blew the lid on child sexual exploitation in the town and led to the formation of United Keighley - an initiative bringing together, different organisations and communities committed to working together to make the town safer for children and young people by raising awareness and tackling the sexual exploitation of children in their town.
There was a United Keighley Week of Action which included a distribution of teal-coloured ribbons representing opposition to sexual violence, and opportunities to sign the United Keighley statement which condemned all acts of criminality against young people, especially sexual abuse.
There were presentations at local school assemblies highlighting the threat posed by Child Sexual Exploitation, art installations and awareness raising at Keighley College and in the Airedale Shopping Centre, and, a sermon in the Shah Jalal Mosque.
The event was co-ordinated by the Racial Justice Network based at Keighley & Ilkley Voluntary and Community Action and the Town Chaplain, the Revd Dr Jonathan Pritchard, was part of that campaign on behalf of the United Parish of Keighley and the Diocese of Leeds.
As he says in the film: “I can’t do anything about what’s happening in Nigeria, the Sudan or the Middle East, but I can do something about here in Keighley about that work of reconciliation that Jesus calls us to be engaged in.”
Plans are in the pipeline for United Keighley to launch a Good Neighbour project sometime in the spring.