Mosques, schools, churches, community groups and civic leaders in Keighley unite to launch campaign against child exploitation
Church and Muslim leaders in Keighley have joined with community representatives, civic leaders, schools, and other local residents to unite behind a campaign in condemnation of child sexual exploitation.
United Keighley was launched on Wednesday 7th October . Among those who spoke at the launch were Cllr Javid Akhtar, Keighley Town Mayor; the Rt Rev Toby Howarth, Bishop of Bradford; Mgr Kieran Heskin, representing Bishop Marcus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds; Mohammed Saleem, Keighley Muslim Association; and Rev Dr Jonathan Pritchard, Keighley Town Chaplain.
Under the banner, ‘All our Young People Matter’ the campaign asks everyone in Keighley to put their name to the United Keighley statement. It reads:
“Grooming children for sex is wrong: any sexual abuse of children is wrong. Whoever does it, whenever, wherever. It is morally, legally and spiritually wrong. It harms our children, it harms all of us. There is no place for it in Keighley or anywhere else. And we utterly condemn it.
“We want to live in a town where all children are safe from sexual predators. We want our children to be safe from abuse. We want to be safe from abuse.
“We, the many different peoples of Keighley, commit ourselves to work together to make this happen.”
The Rt Rev Toby Howarth, the Bishop of Bradford, told the gathering, “Keighley has a name for coming together at times of crisis, standing together shoulder to shoulder. We can't just hope that someone else is going to deal with it. This is our issue, this is our problem because it affects all of us together”
In the coming weeks the whole town will have an opportunity to sign the statement at venues across the community. People in Keighley will be able to sign the statement through churches schools, mosques and community centres that display a ‘All our Young People matter’ banner.
Instrumental in pulling together this community partnership has been the Reverend Jonathan Pritchard in his new role as Town Chaplain. He said, “Everyone I speak with, from all communities in Keighley, is appalled by grooming,
“We are a better town than this – and we are all part of the answer. This campaign is a way to show how we stand united on this issue. It’s a way of showing how we care about Keighley and all our young people. Whatever our background or religion or ethnicity, we make our voices heard together. Sign the United Keighley statement.”
All Keighley residents are invited to sign the statement through churches, schools, mosques or community centres that display the ‘All our Young People matter’ banner. Banners (£42 to cover cost) and signup sheets are available for your building. Contact Rev Dr Jonathan Pritchard on jon [at] thans.info 01535 665312 if you would like be part of the campaign.