In the current debate regarding the road beyond recession, the common wisdom is that bailing out the banks is the way forward, but the platitudes that investing in young people is laying the foundations for the country’s future are all too quickly forgotten.
Young people haven’t always been overlooked. Projects like Intermission Theatre are evidence that when given the opportunity, many kids want to leave their troubled past behind them. We just need to ask 15-year-old Ruth Nyanti, who went from hanging around on street corners to taking the stage for a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Then there’s CODE7 in Oval, which has helped thousands of young people in East London boroughs escape crime. Over the last three years the charity were allowed to use property owned by the London Development Agency for free, but this year they face eviction.
As Boris Johnson laps up praise for the city’s 18 per cent fall in youth crime, places like Intermission Theatre and CODE7 are the real heroes behind the statistics. But instead of support, the LDA are set to undermine the success by withholding funding. Youth facilities are being taken away to be replaced by a lucrative housing development.
This week, murder and antisocial behaviour again dog our communities, crime rates are up in Tower Hamlets and desperate families appeal for help in catching the killers of loved ones. In this climate, we have to ask ourselves what price do we set on providing ongoing alternatives to the deprived youth of East London?