Thank goodness... The sun has popped out to say hello...
In August 2011 many communities throughout England were affected by rioting. Many of these communities, including London, Birmingham and Manchester, house Young Advisor projects; projects that work hard to promote community cohesion, participation and the amplification of young people's voices. Other Young Advisor projects, such as our team in Sheffield, were instrumental in helping to cool down the violence and safeguard their city.
Since these outbreaks of violence in our cities and neighbourhoods YAs from all around the country, both in affected and unaffected communities, have been responding to the events of Summer 2011 and having their say on 'why' and 'how'; 'why' the rioting began in the first place and 'how' do we move forward and avoid such disturbances in the future?
It is important to note that only 20% of people arrested for rioting were 'young people', this was not a mobilisation of the 'youth of today', although, along with every other demographic, some young people were involved in the disturbances.
YAs have met with the community, with the police, with their local councillors, with specialist government panels, even with Ministers to discuss the issues and advocate for their communities and generation. Below are a selection of responses from our movement of young people detailing some of their experiences as they explore the 'why' and the 'how'.
YAs at our Waltham Forest team open up debate around the issues connected with the UK riots. Click here to read more.
Six months on, Waltham Forest YAs are still exploring the issues. Click here to read more
Sheffield was one of our major cities that escaped rioting this summer. YAs from Team Sheffield spoke to Nick Clegg about how they safeguarded their city. Click here to read more.
YAs from all around the country were invited to the Department of Communities and Local Government to talk about their perspectives on the riots. Click here to read more.
YAs from our Sandwell team, bring the community together in a Question Time themed event to explore the whys and the ways forward. Click here to read more.
Young Advisor and Board Member Sean O'Halloran worked with Unicef and Ipsos MORI to publish qualitative research on young people and materialism that calls on Government to:
Encourage businesses to pay a living wage, so parents don't have to take on several jobs to make a living, which affects the amount of time they can spend with their children
Insist local authorities assess the impact of public spending cuts on children so that funding is protected for play facilities and free leisure activities
Follow Sweden's example and stop advertisements being shown before, during or after programmes aimed at under-12s.
Rohim Mohammed, YA and Young Trustee for the Charity, appears on regional news to discuss his perspective on the rioting as you can see from this YouTube clip.
"It's absolutely imperative now more than ever that we ensure that young people are at the forefront of our communities. Young people who aren't engaged and don't feel part of their neighborhoods will end up as disenfranchised with society as the young people who took it upon themselves to commit criminal acts of violence and vandalism over the past few days in our cities. Young Advisors up and down the country have been helping with the subsequent cleanup - these are the young people of the mainstream, and these are the examples of young people taking ownership of their communities - as
Sean O'Halloran, (18) Chair of the Young Advisors Charity
Following the events of the last few days, we’d like to celebrate the efforts of many Young Advisors located in the affected areas for their continued commitment to making communities resilient and safe.
Young Advisor teams have already met with local police, council representatives, and most importantly their peers. We'll be keen to collect these stories over the next few days to recognise your help! Young Advisors in the London boroughs that have been the hardest hit have spoken out to say that they condemn the violence and the destruction in their communities.
In times of difficulty people need to feel that there are open lines of communication so there are peaceful ways of negotiating solutions and sharing problems. Never has there been a more important time for our teams to show the reach of their networks and influence.
We are confident that young people playing an active role in helping to bring communities together will broker more trust and transparency.
Only by young people leading this process in a proactive way can we dispel the negative image that is now being reinforced by the coverage of events.
First and foremost, we are concerned for the safety of communities in the affected areas and condemn criminal activity of any kind.
Secondly we want to create high profile opportunities for young people to share their experience, feelings, fears and hopes with those decision-makers who are responsible for making the difficult choices when balancing the books and balancing social justice. The young people involved should be close to the challenges that have resulted in this unrest. The young people who have engaged in the criminal behaviour should be able to relate to the young people who are part of the conversations. Only by doing this can you give people the assurances that their voices are being heard.
Whilst cuts to the youth service are not to blame for the civil unrest it does inhibit our capacity to deal with the aftermath.
With schools out, youth centres closing and the voluntary and community sector struggling to cope with demand, it is difficult to meet with enough young people to listen to concerns, calm fears, affect real change and cool things down.
With the costs of policing, fire fighting, demolition, repairs and general restoration already running in to the millions, we’re reminded that sometimes spending a little can save a lot!
Gary Buxton, CEO of Young Advisors