Background to the Board of Reference
Bishop Lenford Rowe
Lenford Rowe serves as the current chairperson of the Synergy Network. Bishop Rowe was the regional overseer for the Church of God of Prophecy in South London area for many years. He is a trained counsellor and teacher.
Rev Les Isaac, OBE
Les Isaac is the founder and CEO of Ascension Trust. He pioneered Street Pastors in the UK in 2003. On that first night, 18 volunteers took to the streets of Brixton, London, and since then this initiative has grown to encompass a network of volunteers who engage with people on the streets to care for them, listen to them and help them. To date, Ascension Trust has trained over 14,000 volunteers and has approximately 280 initiatives in the UK as well as projects in several countries around the world. In recognition of the contribution that Les has made to society he was awarded an OBE by her Majesty the Queen and has recently been appointed as an honorary Ecumenical Canon at Southwark Cathedral.
Mrs. Bola I. Ojo
Bola has been involved in education and management for over twenty-five years. She worked for the Greater London Council and several London Boroughs before retiring from the public sector as head of Lifelong learning and Youth Service. She has been a Governor of several primary schools over the years including being on the Governing Board of a local college. More recently, Bola worked in international development. She served as a VSO volunteer working to increase access to quality education for girls in Northern Nigeria and a brief stint in Rwanda, improving school management and teaching English. She is involved in part time project management consultancy work and serves in several capacities in the voluntary sector including a program to establish new born screening in Africa and improve the quality of care for those living with Sickle Cell Disease. Bola serves in the leadership team in her local church and the wider efforts to encourage and support churches to work together across the borough. She is also the prayer pastor co Coordinator for Street Pastors in Bexley.
Delphine Duff works for the London Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) as Operations Manager for the Young Adults and Gangs Unit. It’s a high profile and extremely complex issue, and Delphine’s depth of research-led expertise, and gift for forging multi-agency partnerships, is making a real difference to offenders and to those at risk, as well as the wider community
But Delphine, who was also a Butler Trust Winner in 2011 for her contribution to tackling gun and gang crime, is a great believer in more holistic interventions making a difference, says her nominator, Andrew Hillas, Assistant Chief Officer and Head of the 18 to 25 year old cohort at London CRC. He talks of her bringing an “enviable wealth of knowledge about issues affecting young people and gang influences on offending.” She also has “a particularly good understanding of the complexities of offending and disproportionality in the Black Minority Ethnic (BME) population and uses this to help support probation frontline staff.”
Appointed to set up and lead London CRC’s SGO unit, it became a hub of expertise for internal staff, for prisons, and for the police and other agencies needing intelligence and advice on London gangs. Achievements include linking with Trident (the Metropolitan Police’s anti-gangs unit), forging relationships with prisons to track gang-affiliated offenders leaving custody, and engaging relevant community organisation.
Delphine was also responsible for devising London CRC’s Exit programme, a multi-agency alternative to custody for gang affiliated young people, which won a Howard League ‘Promising New Initiatives Award’ in 2014. And the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) engaged Delphine recently to develop very positively received gangs awareness training for prison staff.
In short, “Delphine’s wealth of knowledge in the fields of gang crime, BME and young adult offending is second to none, and she is seen as a well-respected source of information in these areas.” Indeed, reports Arthur, “she is regularly asked for advice by House of Commons Select Committees and by TV companies exploring story lines.”
A highly skilled networker, Delphine’s close working relationships with a wide range of organisations have helped deliver better access, shared knowledge and best practice, helped co-deliver offender interventions, and increased awareness of gang related crime within the community.
Reverend Ricardo Christopher worked for fifteen years in various government departments in the Civil Service including Northern Ireland Office, Ministry of Defence, Department of Trade and Industry. He also served as the assistant to the head of operations in 10 Downing Street helping to oversee the administration of the building. Ricardo served as senior Pastor for twenty five years of ‘Hope Community Church’ – a branch in the Church of God of Prophecy. During that time he worked for a few years in HMP Wormwood Scrubs as a mentor and teacher to prisoners and founded community schools that offer free education to children from underprivileged backgrounds. He is passionate about addressing knife and violent crime and consults in community/police forums. Since leaving full-time ministry, he continues to teach theological students nationally and internationally and is Ascension Trust’s Liaison Officer.