Book reviews

Kenneth Leech has lived as an Anglican priest in the East End of
London for much of his life, working with homeless people, people
who are drug dependent and young people who live on the

For Leech the East End is a microcosm of our postmodern urban
condition: a place of refuge, settlement and transition where a
multitude of peoples share experiences of exile and loss but also
rebuild community amid conflict and social turbulence. His opening
chapters set this context by examining the impact of successive
waves of immigration – Huguenot, Jewish, Irish, south Asian – and
the accompanying commerce.

Leech’s best pages outline a theology of social engagement with
urban neighbourhoods. Churches, mosques and synagogues are “anchor
institutions” providing the social glue for neighbourhoods swept by
relentless change. Understanding other faiths – particularly Islam
in which he finds much that is helpful – is important.

In his approach much work is to be done with the excluded – he
tells movingly of a priest who tended to those dying of Aids before
succumbing himself.

Finally, he lays out the different modes of politics in which the
church may engage, including the politics of retreat, radicalism
and revolution. All are needed.

John Pierson is co-editor of Rebuilding Community
(Palgrave, 2001)


Alan Bennett was right. It is a good job that childhood does not
happen to us later in life – we would never be able to cope with
it. As a manifesto, produced by Barnardo’s and other child care
charities asserted, although children and young people under 18
make up one quarter of the population, their rights and well-being
are rarely given the priority they deserve.

A quarter of the world’s children live in poverty: globally, more
than 130 million children have no access to basic education and 800
million children lack access to health services. These basic rights
– and many more – are brought together in what is an indispensable
source book on the rights – or lack of them – experienced by
children and young people.

In this welcome handbook, Jeremy Roche contributes a useful
overview of the Children Act 1989, Jane Fortin looks at The Human
Rights Act 1998 and Michael Freeman writes 10 years on from the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child.

What makes this book so invaluable is not only its consideration of
often ignored children – such as carers and disabled children – but
also its global perspectives.

This is an essential textbook for anyone concerned with the
inherent rights of children.

Chris Hanvey is UK director of operations,

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