Well, this week I've been going to bed with the sound of police helicopters overhead and the sound of police car sirens in the background. Although Brixton has had its share of trouble it is nothing like the riots of '81 which I also experienced. But clearly these events are different and we need to understand why.
Some of the press commentary has been appalling. The Mail in particular is a disgrace. The headline on Saturday about the "gangster" who had been shot (when we now know he did not threaten police with a gun) was a further example of how our media standards have slipped. And for some papers- like the Sun- to take the high moral ground after their criminal behaviour is the height of hypocrisy. When the media, the banks, MPs have been shown lacking in moral standards they must be careful about moralising others!
Been talking to members about the recent problems on the streets. Nick Wilkie is the CEO of London Youth and much in demand by the media. We spent an evening in the garden at home on Monday debating our sector response. We know that council cuts have damaged youth services. We know that youth unemployment is rising. We know that DWP were crass in cancelling the Future jobs Fund just as it was getting going. We know the effects of recession generally. None of this is to excuse looting, mugging and other gross acts of violence against communities. So at the moment it is difficult to engage in debate on the causes of this criminality when tensions are so high.
A good article on this was from my vice Chair Allison Ogden-Newton. Read it here.
And meanwhile, what is potentially much more damaging for communities is the growing international economic crisis. That is what must really worry our sector. Cuts in support for the third sector continue to damage organisations. Yet demand for our services rises as the recession bites ever harder.
I'm now off to see ACEVO member Roy O'Shaughnessy who runs one of the countries biggest charities working in welfare to work CDG. His office in Brixton was damaged. He works at the front line of youth unemployment. I will be interested in his angle on current events.