The Rt. Revd Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, speaks at vigil for Reading school boy

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10 January 2021

The Rt. Revd Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, spoke today ahead of a vigil held for Oliver Stephens, who was murdered last week.

Bishop Olivia said,

“Thank you all for coming. It is so heart warming and comforting to see a community gathered together at a time like this, and Olly’s family feel very supported by the love, care and sympathy which you and many others have shown them.

“Olly’s death has been a huge and tragic shock to this community, and far, far wider. It has spotlighted the devastating effect on a family of losing a child, and the devastating effect for other families of realising that their child may have been involved in an appalling act of violence. This event has changed many lives forever.

“But more than that, it has spotlighted a culture, a sickness which exists in the world that many of our young people inhabit. The reasons for it are complex. The results of it are appalling. But we have to ask ourselves why our young people are carrying knives? What is it telling us about ourselves and our society?

“We are going through a time of heightened anxiety, fear and uncertainty as we deal with the COVID pandemic and all that it has meant for us. There has never been a time when it is more important to hold together and stand strong as a community and to look out for one another. The compassion which this community has shown in the aftermath of this tragic murder has been wonderful to see. Let it not end here. Let’s continue each day to work to make things better; to look out for and look after each other; to bless each other with random acts of kindness. And let’s hold onto the light of hope in the midst of this darkness.”

If you are worried about a child, there are organisations that can help;  The Ben Kinsella Trust has a lot of helpful information.