After the disturbances in some of our major cities during the summer, we were both concerned that Medway (comprising five separate towns: Gillingham, Rainham, Chatham, Rochester and Strood) should directly address some of the factors which were perceived to have led to the riots.
The Leader of Medway Council, Rodney Chambers, and Rehman Chishti MP sent out invitations to a wide range of community organisations, churches and faith communities, universities, colleges and schools, the police and social service delivery agencies to a community gathering in January. The community seminar was led by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester.
This was very well supported by different sections of the community, and a number of objectives were identified for the prevention of social erosion and the strengthening of society. Many of those attending agreed that too much emphasis on autonomy had led to individualism, selfishness and greed. It was pointed out that we become who we are through our relationships, and the importance of interdependence and partnerships was seen as crucial for community building and, indeed, self-understanding.