Bill, based in Wokingham, has a passion for working with vulnerable people. He has been a Christian since he was 16 years old. Following years of community development work with vulnerable groups around the world, the experience of working with Tearfund in Glasgow led Bill to set up his own consultancy, Mosaic Creative. Mosaic has been working with The Clewer Initiative to develop and deliver community resilience training, including the Hidden Voices and County Lines courses.
A personal encounter with County Lines inspired Bill’s involvement with the issue: “I was volunteering at a homeless shelter, and discovered that a former resident I had always chatted with was setting up a drug lead into the hostel – I was deceived by him. I challenged him, and he tailgated me in a massive Range Rover. It was an insight into how aggressive and manipulative County Lines is, but I also recognised that he was part of a pyramid, so I was concerned for him too. A second encounter with County Lines in Bridgwater was a turning point.”
Bill’s main involvement with The Clewer Initiative has been delivering training, most recently the County Lines courses. Bill explains that he “loves making training come alive and making it accessible. I am amazed at how passionate young people are about the issue. County Lines makes people feel passionate about their own communities, because it is linked to people’s own families. The Clewer Initiative is engaging younger people than the church normally reaches, including those of no faith – we have a real role in enabling those of no faith to reflect.”
The next challenge for Bill will be taking his work to Italy, where he will spend some of his time supporting The Clewer Initiative’s work with Mediterranean Hope. He explains that “Italy is an amazing opportunity. As an artist, I will have a huge window to work out how to help people who have been traumatised, including refugees and migrants. Art is a powerful medium through which to conduct community development work with vulnerable and marginalised groups.”
On the challenges of modern slavery and County Lines, Bill suggests that “building cohesive, caring communities is the ultimate answer. We need stronger communities which are prepared to protect the vulnerable. These issues take root in fractured communities where no one is caring. Awareness raising only goes so far – there must be action. County Lines offers a massive opportunity for the church to be directly relevant and connect with communities.”
Bill hopes that out of this...
“The Clewer Initiative can facilitate communities to become stronger. We are in an amazing position to make change. County Lines removes children’s potential and their childhood – we need to lance it. I hope the church can be a big player in that.”