Former deputy London Mayor Ray Lewis talks to Forest Gate faithful

Rev Dr Chigor Chike from Emmanuel Church, Harvinder Singh Virdee and Maghar Singh Hunjan from Ramgar

Rev Dr Chigor Chike from Emmanuel Church, Harvinder Singh Virdee and Maghar Singh Hunjan from Ramgarhia Sikh Gurdwara on Neville Road, Rev Canon Barnabas Matloon from Emmanuel Church (Co-ordinator of faithful project), Rev Ian Parker from Forest Gate Methodist Church, Ali Khan (Administrator) from Minhaj Ul Quran International and Abdul Karim Sheikh (Chairman) from Newham North Islamic Association on Green Street E7 - Credit: Archant

A youth worker and former deputy Mayor of London spoke at a Forest Gate church about saving young men from a life of crime.

Ray Lewis, executive director of the Eastside Youth Leaders Academy (EYLA), gave a talk and answered questions at Woodgrange Baptist Church in Romford Road on April 7.

The meeting was attended by followers of several faiths, including Christians, Muslims and Sikhs, as well as ministers from Church of England, Baptist and Methodist churches, and Muslims from Minhaj-ul-Qur’an and Green Street Mosque.

Ray Lewis served as Boris Johnson’s deputy mayor in 2008, before resigning over allegations of financial irregularities, which he denies.

In January 2013, he was appointed senior advisor to London Mayor Boris Johnson on youth mentoring, and works with young men on turning their lives around.

The event was held by the Faithful Friends forum, which was set up in 2007 to bring together faith leaders from more than seven religious communities.

It meets regularly to address issues that affect the lives of residents, with Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Sikhs, Hindus and both Sunni and Shia Muslims all involved.

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Mr Lewis’s EYLA works to empower young Black men to become the next generation of leaders - as he says, “to get them out of the courtroom and into the boardroom”.

It was founded in 2002 by Mr Lewis modelled on a project in the American state of Louisiana, and focuses on respect, self-worth, hard work, academic excellence and civic responsibility.

The Rev Dr Chigor Chike, of Emmanuel Church, Forest Gate, who helps run Faithful Friends, said: “Our programme for this year includes doing some events on young people.

“We invited Ray Lewis to inform our thinking in terms of what we can contribute to the lives of young people in the various faith centres - churches, mosques etc. - and generally in the community.

“This means, at the hard end, the issue of crime and gangs and so on, but at the softer end, how we as people of faith can be a positive influence to young people generally.”

Faithful friends meets every other month, usually on the 18th.

For more information contact Emmanuel Church in Romford Road on 0208 522 1900.

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