• Notes from the Explore Annual Lecture

    March, 2014
    “Who would have thought twenty years ago we’d have to put up a defence about the importance of marriage and good sustainable positive relationship, but here we are." Click below to read the full notes from the Annual Lecture.
    Full story

Notes from the Explore Annual Lecture

March, 2014

Notes from the Explore Lecture – Thursday 6th March 2014

The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

Rev. Les Isaacs


“Who would have thought twenty years ago we’d have to put up a defence about the importance of marriage and good sustainable positive relationship, but here we are.  I still feel today that we talk about it, we intellectualise it, ‘logicalise’ it and yet our PR about it is suspect.”


The challenge that we face in the 21st century particularly amongst young, fatherless men

Les comes from the Antigua in the West Indies.  Due to Winston Churchill and in particular Enoch Powell, came to UK with parents around 50 years ago.  Within 18 month to 2 years of coming here, parents had split up when about seven years of age.  In that particular cultural context, children were seen and not heard and so was unable to articulate pain and anger.  As there wasn’t a space created for a child to express the pain, anger and disappointment being experienced, was unable to verbalise feelings.  At the age of 7 made a vow, “If ever I become an adult, if ever I get married, I would never want to leave my wife because I’d never want my children to go through what I went through.”  Excites Les, being brought up in a council house on an estate with a single parent mother going to secondary comprehensive school by God’s grace he was able to beat the odds.  This year Les and his wife celebrated 33 years of marriage.


“I’m excited about relationships, marriage – it’s possible, it works, it’s on God’s agenda; it holds society together and yet I find out that I’ve got to find creative ways of communicating that to this generation.”


21st Century thrown up many challenges

Challenge to society because of the uncertainties, global conflicts & many social, moral challenges that all are facing in the 21st century.

In the midst of that there is family breakdown – more children growing-up with just one parent, more children are going to school and seeking to learn and achieve with the support of just one parent at home.  More often than not that parent is hussling, trying to pay the bills – we’ve developed the phrase latch-key children.

Estimate 1.4 million fatherless young men living in UK today

31% of all men in jail are from single parent households – something has gone wrong in terms of our young men.

Something like 500 thousand 16-25 year old boys are not in education, employment or training.

When surface is scratched, it is recognised that an important component has been missing – their father.

When look at figures of prison population today, 85,469 people are in our jails.

Ten years ago in council meeting and looked at correlation of absent fathers and young boys in particular being influenced and going to jail.  There is over a 70% potential that if a young boy’s father goes to jail, he will go to jail as well.  Something has gone wrong in terms of our society and in terms of absent fathers.

There is an estimated 160,000 children with a parent in prison in the UK and they are mostly men.  This is more than twice the number of children in care and over six times the number of children on the child protection register.

Meet our young people on the streets and many of the young men in particular are angry – the number one thing that they are angry about is that they feel they were robbed; they are victims before they were born – the absence of their father.  Due to the anger they go onto feel hopeless – a sense of hopelessness in their thinking, their attitude, their lack of expectation in terms of life.


According to crime in England & Wales, formerly known as the British Crime Survey, 16-24 year olds are more likely than any other age group to become a victim of crime.  It’s at that age, the age of rebellion, searching – the testosterone is high and they don’t know what to do.  It’s at that critical age in particular where young men, young boys are saying who am I, questioning why their father is not about.  It’s at that age that they become more aggressive, more prone to be influenced, commit crime or become victims of crime.

In the 21st century this is the generation that he have got to become fathers to and becoming a father is not about your colour, class, background, which school you went to.

Becoming a father is saying actually I care and actually I want to give something.

You become your environment.

Not more fathers we need on its own.  We need to change environments; a holistic approach is needed…education, training, employment…awareness that I have a stake in society.

All negativity has come about because of the lack of absent fathers and we try to fill it with special resources.

Eight of ten young people in the Pupil Referral Unit with special needs are boys.  Many of them come from chaotic homes (alcohol, drugs, violence) but believe part of that as well is absent fathers.

Every place in the Pupil Referral Unit costs £16,000 a year to look after one child, where-as it costs £4,500 just to put them in an ordinary school.

We’re paying way over the odds for the consequences of absent fathers.

Later on we pay a higher price to keep them in our prisons.  The latest figures say that it costs £55,000 per year to keep a young boy in a Young Offender Institute.  Its more than paying their fee in Eton for the year.

£206,000 to keep them in secure Children Homes

That works out as an average of £76,000 across all accommodation.

We are spending a lot of money to fix something which called love, acceptance, value, affection, encouragement, values and motivation.

Not rocket science, we could spend millions on a child per year keeping them in secure units, excluding them from society from a young age, but actually what they want is love.

What young men are looking for are the caring, the listening and the helping of our society because that is the thing that is a vacuum in their lives…someone who says, “I care for you; I’m here to listen…”

Some of the most effective people on our streets today are Street Pastors, in their seventies and eighties.  One woman hung up her hat last year at the age of 91.  Young people are coming up to them, crying and pouring out their hearts to them saying that they’ve had no-one to talk to.  They’ve grown-up and people haven’t listened to them or shown affection to them.  Grandma’s give hugs on the street to show that they care for them and they want to listen to them and help them.

We need men and women and particularly men in the 21st century who will give their time to someone-else who hasn’t been so fortunate.

We get more people to go to schools to just sit down and listen and talk and share and become vulnerable to say to this generation (particularly young boys) that there is hope.

We have hope not just in relationships, but particularly in the Lord Jesus Christ – solid hope that we have.

“Faith without works is dead, is futile” [James 2:17]

If you believe that God has called the church to simply gather woodworm in its posterior on a Sunday morning, then you are making a mistake.  God has called us to be relevant, practical, salt & light in our society and we do that as we share with those who are weak, vulnerable and on the margin of society.


Click here to listen to an interview with Les Isaac recorded shortly after the event, courtesy of BBC Radio Kent.


© Explore 2006 - 2014
Registered Charity: 1084226
Registration No: 3913462