17 Aug | 8:55 am
Five years ago this month, thousands rioted in London and other towns and cities in England. One young man who went to prison for stealing during the riots in 2011 has been transformed after accepting Jesus into his life. He now works with his local Youth for Christ Centre to prevent other young people getting involved in crime.
When Scott Bates was 15 he started living in a hostel and mixing with the wrong crowd. He began getting into trouble with the police, motivated by a desire to prove himself to the older boys around him so that he’d fit in and be respected.
A Moment of Madness
On the day of the riots a friend knocked on his door and told him to come to Clapham Junction as “something’s going on.” Scott was 18. He had no support, no job, little food and nothing to do, so he went with him.
When he got there he witnessed hundreds running out of the estate, down the road and from the other side into the area. As a result, young people filled the Junction and soon pushed a police line back. Scott got caught up in what was happening. “It felt hugely powerful to be there” he admits before adding, “I’ve never felt anything like it. The adrenaline was scary.”
On Northcote Road, people ran past him carrying so many items that they were dropping all sorts on the ground. Scott impulsively picked up some watches and clothes and took them home. Looking back, he acknowledges that he did it for his own benefit.
Within 24 hours the police arrested Scott and retrieved the items. He was convicted of stealing and sent to prison. Scott spent 6 months inside which he found tough.
Through their work with young offenders and bullied children, Wandsworth YFC were able to work with Scott and provide him with guidance and support. Scott had been seeking Jesus before the riots but after them, he decided to get serious and get to know Christ.
Scott took courses on bricklaying and painting and decorating whilst incarcerated.
From Rioter to Servant
After being released Scott set up his own small business called “Handy Boys and Co.” with the help of Wandsworth YFC and his local church. Through it, Scott has brought young people together to serve the community by doing odd jobs for people. These have included decorating, gardening, flooring and helping to de-clutter people’s homes.
Deepika Makwana, WYFC Director, says “We are really proud of Scott and how far he has come. Scott and his team have worked really hard and it has made a big difference in people’s lives”.
Scott made the decision to get baptised on Sunday 21st June 2016. He also plans to start training with Street Pastors this September.
Pray for Wandsworth YFC as they continue to support children that go through the care system (and their families). Additionally, please pray for the young people that Scott and the WYFC trustees work with.
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