Introduction: After the riots...

    1 September 2011

    When rioting and looting ignited in London on 6 August and swept across England for almost four days, the nation and wider world stopped in shock to ask what was going on in our society.

    Over two nights, limited rioting and looting took place in Bristol and in Ashfield Young Offenders Institute in South Glos. (There had previously been riots in Bristol over Easter.)

    The legacy and interpretation of those days of “summer madness” remains unclear: column inches have been devoted to every possible angle, from family life to policing, public service cuts to consumerism, social media to penal reform.

    But what was and is the Church doing and saying in response?

    Christians and churches were at the heart of cleanup operations. In Bristol, people gathered to pray on the Downs following on from the riots. A further city prayer meeting is planned for 16 September at Christ Church Clifton with worship led by Graham Kendrick.

    Now the dust has settled, what next?

    To help church communities think through a Christian response, we have commissioned a series of articles from ISR.

    In the first of the series, Jon Doble, the Director of ISR, which works within the Diocese on issues of work and social justice, explores the response of local churches in their mission to their communities.

    In the second, Jim Davis from the Children’s Society reflects on young people’s responses of to the riots.

    Future articles will appear throughout September and include the experiences of one of our local police chaplains in the riot van with police; how we engage with partnerships to create communities of wholeness in our neighbourhoods; and what wellbeing and community cohesion might mean from a Christian perspective.

    Archbishop Rowan Williams said: “This is a moment which we must seize:

    “A moment where there is sufficient anger at the breakdown of civic solidarity, sufficient awareness of the resources people have in helping and supporting one another, sufficient hope (in spite of everything) of what can be achieved by the governing institutions of this country, to engage creatively with the possibilities that this moment gives us.”