Greenwich Centre of Mission
Kidbrook, Eltham, Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, southeast London
Working in some of the most deprived communities in the UK, the Greenwich Centre of Mission is rooted in the areas most impacted by high rates of knife crime, drug activity, anxiety and depression. The centre of mission is reaching out to hundreds of children, young people and parents each year to provide safe spaces, mentoring and activities along with gospel input. Between Nick, based in Kidbrook and Eltham, and Karen, based in Thamsemead and Abbeywood, the Greenwich Centre of Mission is bringing a message of hope and change to individuals, families and communities.
KAren Saunders Writes…
“The main challenges facing these young people are knife crime, drugs, and gang violence.
The two murder victims we had last November, were from different sides of a postcode war, though one wasn’t associated with a gang at all became collateral damage. I was asked by his mum to join with the celebrants and take the funeral service, and I read the eulogy. They didn’t want a lot of ‘God’ in the service, or the vicar, but as I was one of them, raised here on this estate, they wanted me to do it.
One of our other boys, in youth club, was a witness and saw the whole thing, and we’ve supported and sought counselling for him. We also invested in some bleed out kits and have been distributing those and training the local pubs, clubs, and schools on how use them in the event someone is stabbed.
It’s difficult for these young people, they could be the fourth or fifth generation of their families living here. And most of these kids don’t know who or how to trust. By 7pm on a Friday night their parents could be either high or drunk and don’t even know their kids are out of the house, let alone with us in youth club.
Educational attainment is poor, there’s very little local employment, there hasn’t been acceptance or support at home, and those in gangs are making serious money each week and walking around in the latest trainers. It’s hard to compete with that.
But I see God at work here. Particularly when one of our young people comes back, like a young man who came to me three weeks ago and said, ‘Karen, I’m on my way home but wanted to show you this before I show my Nan,’ and it was his first car.
This was a boy who had lost his one parent, and we saw him through a really difficult time. And to tell you he was one of those kids I will never forget is an understatement, he caused some real issues, but we persevered, and we persevered, and we persevered.
For me, when one of them stays out of prison, stays alive, stays off drugs and ends up buying himself a car and being in a job, it’s like Rejoice! Absolute joy!”
Karen Saunders, Abbey Wood, Greenwich Centre of Mission
Nick Russell Writes…
“For us, the foundation of our work is 1 Corinthians 13 – persevering love. What draws gang members in – and they’re mostly damaged and hurting young people – is they’re looking for love and acceptance. Love is the only thing that can give damaged children hope.
These young lives have never had affirmation, they’ve only experienced rejection.
So, we do relational youth work, and our attitude is unconditional love – which they know they need and are drawn to. Yes, they can be quite violent young people, but we don’t reject them, and for that, they give us their loyalty.
Those who do come through, they begin to engage with more life, get jobs, choose a different path away from gangs. When I’ve met them years later, I can see the gratitude in those tough lives.
Lives lived without hope until they met a Christian youth worker who persevered past the damage.
We have a lad now, who was on the path to become a drug dealer and now he’s an apprentice on a construction site. Two of our current youth workers came back to us after they were both in jail. One was in and out from the age of 15, and we kept persevering with him.
HE’S OUR THIRD YOUNG OFFENDER WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO EMPLOY AS A YOUTH WORKER.
The thing that makes the difference, with these kids in gangs, is how long you stick at it. They see that, and they remember it.
Nick Russell, Greenwich Centre of Mission
Type of Work
Church Planting /
Work with Elderly
Evangelists & Leaders
The Superkidz Community Trust
Superkidz is a Christian Trust open to users and staff of all faith, or none in the London Borough of Greenwich. We have a core value of persevering loving care. We specialize in work with young offenders, those who struggle with drugs and young people who are victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE)
XLP is about creating positive futures for young people growing up on inner-city estates, struggling daily with issues such as family breakdown, unemployment and educational failure, and living in areas that experience high levels of anti-social behaviour and gang violence. Every year XLP helps thousands of young people recognise their full potential.