Hundreds of people are expected to attend a special church service for the victims of child grooming in Rotherham.
Local churches have arranged a service on Tuesday, February 24, at Rotherham Minster at 7pm to pray for the future of Rotherham and those who have been directly affected by child sexual exploitation.
Among those due to attend are Bishop of Sheffield Steven Croft and South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Alan Billings.
It follows a similar service being held in Rotherham last September in the wake of the publication of the Jay report, which revealed at least 1,400 children in the town had been victims of sexual exploitation over a 16-year period.
The autumn service was attended by almost 600 people and around 400 people are expected to attend next week’s event.
Local MPs, councillors, school teachers, social workers and victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation are all expected to attend.
Representatives of the Rotherham Ethnic Minority Alliance will also be at the event.
Pastor Adrian Dexter, who has organised the event, said around 20 ministers from different churches around the Rotherham area have agreed to attend.
The event will involve speeches from various community leaders about the efforts to tackle child sexual exploitation in the town.
Mr Dexter said it is hoped the event will raise awareness of the signs of abuse, as well as providing spiritual support for those fighting to get justice for victims.
He added: “As a church we want to be more involved in serving the community.”
The service follows the recent publication of the Casey report, which found Rotherham Council was still ‘in denial’ about the extent of child abuse in the town and resulted in the resignation of the authority’s entire cabinet.
The Government has ordered five commissioners to take over the running of Rotherham Council, after the report found the authority was ‘not fit for purpose’.
Jan Ormondroyd, interim chief executive, said this month: “The council could and should have done more in the past and we apologise for the devastating impact that this has had on the lives of the people of Rotherham.”