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Meet this pastor who's on a quest to save the youth

PICTURED: Pastor Alison Johnson

IN AN effort to stem Croydon’s youth violence and knife crime problem, Pastor Alison Johnson, the founder of Torchlight Ministries, has recently hosted a community meeting alongside Croydon’s BAME forum.

More than 100 residents, concerned about youth crime and fatal stabbing turned out for the meeting to find solutions to the issue. They were joined by local MPs, councillors, representatives from community groups, church leaders and the borough commander.

The fatal stabbing of young teenager Aren Mali was the catalyst that spurred Pastor Alison to call the meeting, which was entitled Enough is Enough. The mother-of-four said: “I’ve been an education consultant in Croydon for more than 20 years and have done a lot of work with young offenders and permanently excluded young people.

“Watching the number of young people that have been killed on the streets across London, and in particularly Croydon, and the recent death of 17-year-old Aren Mali, I felt I had to stake my ground and draw a line in the sand because enough is enough. Aren was killed on a Sunday in Croydon town centre, and it just really touched me. I really believe that the voice of the church is absent on this debate and now I’m in a position, as leader of a church, to make our voice known."

Pastor Allison was pleased with the turnout and people's concerns, there was a feeling that if the community worked together, things could get better. One positive outcome of the meeting was the formation of the Faith and Community Impact Taskforce which Alison will spearhead. She explained: "I'll be calling upon other pastors and leaders of ministries to come together to explore how we can open up church buildings in the week to provide safe leisure spaces for young people."

Alison has spoken to some church leaders and discussed running boxing classes, providing training to teach dance and youth events. She said: “My ethos for the church is that we will have community impact. We will meet on Sundays, but our church members want to roll up their sleeves and work in the community during the week.”

There is no doubt that Alison has a passion for helping others. Before starting Torchlight Ministries four months ago, she worked as an educational consultant, and ran a thriving women’s ministry at her former church. Although Alison is focused on establishing the church congregation she currently leads, being the busy woman that she is, Alison also runs the London branch of Training Kings, a nationwide network for Christian business owners.

In her efforts to support the community, Alison will be holding ‘Not Forgotten and Not Ignored’, a special service being held on November 26 to remember and celebrate the lives of young people who died as a result of violent crime.

It is Alison’s prayer that the Croydon community will work together to bring an end to the violence blighting its youth, and that the church community will also play a key role.

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