Any right minded person is saddened by the events of the last week. The mindless violence and wanton destruction is totally abhorrent and inexcusable. The immediate response from the government to promptly bring the perpetrators to justice is welcome but it’s the long term that we should all start to think about and act on quickly.
We have to tackle this two speed society that surely can only lead to further unrest. Successive governments have failed to stem the widening gap between haves and have not’s.
We have to ensure that it’s not just middle class parents who find it easy to access sports clubs and activities for their kids (How many young people who were part of an organised football club or cricket club took part in the looting? I would say it would be very few).
We have to ensure that young people have more of an opportunity to fill their time with things that interest them. Yet significant cuts are being made that are resulting in the downgrading of many youth services.
I have been writing about these issues for a decade now and there has been little or no movement on these issues since these articles in 2005.
We have to ensure that education stimulates and engages and takes into account the fact that not every child loves the so called “core subjects”, Maths, English and Science and that in their early teens some young people need a more vocational education. Yet the government is pushing forward with plans that focus far too heavily on the core subjects. And at a time like this don’t get me started on the threat to “Citizenship Studies”.
The media have been asking how the rioters can smash up their own communities and the looters grab from their neighbours. From where I am from it’s called “shitting on your own doorstep”. But the problem is that these people feel alienated from their communities, and don’t feel that they have a doorstep to call their own. Whilst community is about people it helps if there are physical facilities at its core and it’s a worry how these are funded with the present “cut at all costs” attitude coming out of the treasury.
At HemingwayDesign we have three significant regeneration projects on the go at the moment, all of them focus on breathing new life into troubled 60s and 70s estates. Gerardine and I constantly remind the team that these projects are not to be led by architectural intervention but rather by instilling a sense of community, hope and pride into every resident. The events of the last week just spur us on and make us realise how fortunate we are to not feel hopeless when watching the news but rather we can go to work next day and try to make a difference.
One thing we can start to do is to work out another way than just saying NO to young people.
This sign that I spotted in Minehead says so much about where we are at the moment and the work we all have to do.