The BBC is going to show a documentary on changing attitudes towards immigrants in Newham. ‘Last Whites of the East End’, which will be broadcast on BBC One, will take a stark look at people’s attitudes to residents of other races in the east London borough. While gentrification, rising house prices, a lack of affordable social housing and rising in-work poverty drive people further out of the capital and ravage the city, some in this documentary have focused their dislike on the area’s increased diversity. Many reports have since implied this shows an irreversible, undesirable change in the area – that some intangible quality is being lost.
The Youth Select Committee today formally begins a new inquiry into the scourge of knife crime in the UK. The pioneering Committee is calling for evidence from a wide range of contributors, including young people, charities, and businesses.
AS the David Davis and Boris Johnson resignations confirm, Brexit is a divisive issue. It represents the most significant UK political faultline in decades – in fact, since the UK joined what was then the European Economic Community in 1973. Brexit has created what could potentially be a fatal split in both the UK’s major parties – ironically at a time when there is no large third party to exploit the divisions. Theresa May had successfully bullied her Cabinet into reluctant accord at Chequers, but the resignation of her government colleagues may herald the outbreak of full-blown Conservative civil war.
The Brexit division is symptomatic of, yet different to, what is happening internationally in politics. It is different in the sense that other western European nations have a traditional Christian democrat Vs social democrat competition, which is being disrupted by newly emerging populist parties that do not come from a traditional left or right wing perspective. It is also different in the sense that Labour remains a strong party in Britain, while other social democrat parties are being humiliated across Europe.
But Brexit is similar to what is happening in much of Europe and also in the United States in the sense that it is rooted in the emergence of ‘identity politics’. For many voters today, ideology apparently does not matter – it is a contest about the representation of different communities. Trump’s victory was to a significant extent about white men seeking to assert their traditional social dominance over black communities (repudiating the Obama legacy) and feminists. Brexit can be seen as a conflict between predominantly European and Anglo-Saxon cultures.
In England – and Brexit is mostly about tensions within English society – Brexit expresses a sense of anger by communities left behind. The poorest regions of England voted for Brexit, despite objective analysis suggesting they will lose the most. It was an expression of anger by communities that were once thriving from coal mining, steel works and manufacturing who had their incomes and their sense of identity destroyed by de-industrialisation. These were communities badly damaged again by the reduction in real incomes following the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009.
When I interviewed former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis a few months ago, he argued that the underlying cause of Brexit was the failure of English regional policy. He has a point. England contains some of the poorest and some of the richest regions in Europe. Moreover, anyone who has lived a long time in England, or – like me – is English, knows that in addition to the feeling of dispossession, or the fear of change, there can also be an ugly undercurrent of racism.
But when it comes to identity politics, there is perhaps no one who does it better than Northern Ireland. And Brexit is adding another layer of nastiness into this. Differences have become boiled down to unionists as ‘leavers’ and nationalists and republicans as ‘remainers’. (This is simplistic: many unionists voted remain and some republicans voted leave.)
Community relations got better after the Good Friday Agreement. But it is significant that one phrase is used repeatedly to describe what is happening in Northern Ireland following the Brexit vote. Things are “going backwards”.
‘MORE EMOTION THAN REASON’?
That phrase was used by David Holloway, director of the Northern Ireland organisation Community Dialogue. He says that the combined effects of the collapse of power sharing at Stormont and the tensions over Brexit are creating serious tensions between communities. The border has suddenly become important again. “There is a palpable sense of community retrenchment into traditional unionist and nationalist positions,” says Holloway. “Things are becoming black and white again, where they had blurred at the edges.”
The phrase that things are ‘going backwards’ was also used by teenagers and young adults, consulted by NI’s Children’s Law Centre. For many of them, the division is between the young and the old. Anger is expressed that young people, below the voting age, had their life chances reduced by the voting decisions of older adults. That anger has become something like despair for many teenagers from other EU nations who have moved here and now expect to be forced to depart. And despite police figures showing a long-term downward trend in racial attacks in Northern Ireland, the experience of the contributors was that tension has grown for nationals of other EU countries – including Roma.
The Brexit referendum was conducted without subtlety and featured claims that were typically unverified and often false. It had an immediate and substantial impact on those most affected – the under 18s and EU nationals living in the UK – who had no say in the outcome. And the region most affected – Northern Ireland – was barely considered in the debate in Britain. It is a toxic combination that has inevitably increased tension between communities all over the UK, but particularly in Northern Ireland. These factors also mean the Brexit division is based more on emotion than reason. This is the most dangerous division of all – as Northern Ireland knows only too well.
Paul Gosling is a politics & economics writer based in Derry/L’Derry.
At Eden we use creative ways to engage visitors, including storytelling and practical activities. We’ve also taken these techniques out into neighbourhoods, to shape a series of community engagement events.
Using fun and inspiring techniques such as art, music, storytelling, humour and hands-on practical activities, has proved a fantastic way to involve people in influencing the future of where they live. We’ve used them in neighbourhood planning events, whether it be helping people make the most of green spaces, kickstart community enterprises, understand climate change, or respond to large-scale planning developments affecting the area.
Along with other forward-thinking organisations in Cornwall, we’ve designed sessions in all shapes and sizes – but we always make sure that they are as little like conventional stakeholder engagement events as possible. Among them you’ll find:
drop-in community planning days, designed like local fêtes
film-making workshops with local stakeholders
learning journeys to other communities
practical training on everything from gardening to business skills
What they all have in common is an ambition to value the process as much as the products of engagement. Our sessions aim to:
establish a real sense of participation
We give people tangible ways to input to the day, such as setting up ‘washing lines’ or ‘rant pinboards’ where they can add their comments.
encourage new people to get involved
We reach out to as many age groups as possible by providing a convivial setting (often with tea, cake and bunting!) in a venue that’s easily accessible.
inspire new thinking
By creating an inspirational space and offering practical activities – such as contributing to ideas scrapbooks – we try to raise people’s aspirations of what’s possible.
We convene different people, from residents to service providers to community groups, in a neutral space where they can find common ground.
Teenagers face real problems on a daily basis during the most awkward growth stages of their lives; between 13 and 19-years-old. During this time, teens are exposed to some overwhelming external and internal struggles. Teens go through, and are expected to cope with hormonal changes, puberty, social and parental forces, work and school pressures, as well as encountering many conditions and problems. Teens feel overwhelmed when faced with unprecedented stresses concerning school and college, and career confusion situations. Those who have absentee parents are exposed to more unfavorable states of life. The issues that teenagers face today vary but these issues can be dealt with easily if parents and other guardians can understand the symptoms of their problems. Parents need to approach their children, who have been suffering from one or more teenage problems, carefully and in a friendly manner to discuss the problem(s). Many teens feel misunderstood. It is vital that their feelings and thoughts are validated and that the validation comes from their parents.
The most common problems that teenagers face today include:
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Drinking and Smoking
Peer-Pressure and Competition
They’re too young to vote, but schoolchildren across the globe are taking matters into their own hands
In May, for the second time this year, more than 1.5 million young people in more than 125 countries walked out of schools, colleges and universities in the biggest day of global climate action ever. Young people have protested en masse before – millions marched against the Iraq war in 2003 – but this child-led uprising is happening with unprecedented momentum on a global scale.
The urgency of their protests reflects the very narrow window of opportunity left to make positive change. We are already living outside the climate parameters that first gave rise to humans, and the world’s leading climate scientists agree that we have only 12 years to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C. Still, most governments are not doing enough to stay within these limits as set out by the United Nation’s 2015 Paris agreement.
The complexities of the climate crisis have become highly politicised, but young people are able to cut through the noise. As Jamie Clarke, executive director of Climate Outreach, explains: “Climate change is the most politically divisive issue in America, more so than gun control and abortion. But young people have the social freedom to say it like it is.”
UK Youth Climate Coalition’s Jake Woodier believes that climate strikes are reconfiguring the political sphere. “Children who historically don’t have a voice in politics are really thrusting their opinions into the public domain,” he says. “We are seeing thousands of incredibly intelligent and articulate children who are grasping the severity of the climate crisis better than adults in power.” Here, seven young people who are doing just that, explain where their passion comes from.
The latest official data shows that drinking and drug use among young people has more than halved over the past 10 years. Yet there are still significant numbers of young people across the country using and misusing substances, and some of these are at risk of developing severe and enduring substance misuse problems that continue into adulthood. Health inequalities relating to substance misuse are evident, with vulnerable groups (such as those excluded from school, young offenders and care leavers) far more likely to experience substance misuse problems.
As a member of the Young People’s Health Partnership, a consortium of organisations working with the Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England as strategic partners to raise the profile of the health agenda across the voluntary youth sector, Addaction has produced this briefing about young people’s substance misuse and how local services and commissioners can respond to this issue. This is a huge and complex issue so we have chosen to focus this document on one area that Addaction believes is vital in any local approach to drug and alcohol misuse among young people: early intervention.
Early intervention best practice demonstrates what the Young People’s Health Partnership is all about: an integrated approach to young people’s health and wellbeing, building the skills of the youth sector, partnership working, and – most importantly – young people leading the way.
The mother and campaigner: Patsy McKie, founding member of Mothers Against Violence, Manchester
We sometimes think [tackling gang violence] is something that one has to do outside of the people who are doing it. We have to see what’s happening, and what it’s causing, in our communities. Then we have to move away from that and do something different.
We need to actually find out from the young people why they think it’s happening and what they think can be done. Things have got to a place where too much has gone on to stop something just like that. You really have to find the people who are doing it – and we really don’t find them, and if we do they don’t talk to us. If you teach a child something, especially when young, it stays with them for ever. We need to teach children good habits so that when they grow up they’re still in that habit. Addiction is a habit – they become addicted to something and they can’t stop, or they think they can’t. It’s so difficult to stop something you’ve always done before. We go to junior school, and PRUs [pupil referral units], secondary school and colleges and universities. [Young people] tell you some of the things older people will say – there’s not enough policing, there’s not enough of this or that. There will never ever be enough of everything that we need. What we need to think is: how we can change things with what we’ve got? That’s what I tell them.
The medic: Dr Christine A Goodall, director of Medics Against Violence, Glasgow
What has worked well here [in Glasgow, where the number of homicides has dropped by almost half since 2007], is that w e looked at violence in the round. [We adopted a public health model] which means everybody has to work together. It’s absolutely not just a policing issue, it involves everybody: schools, communities, hospital, prisonsand we work in workplaces as well. We had seen so many young people injured as a result of violence that we decided we had to do something about that.
We put together a programme that we use in schools. I hope we present them with enough information in order to make decisions about what they’re going to do, because they carry with them a lot of myths about the safety of violence – and what you can get away with doing and it still be ok. The idea that there’s a safe place to stab someone, not understanding how quickly you can lose your blood volume, and at what point that become irretrievable and the fact that medicine can’t actually save everybody
This is not party political statement, but our government is very supportive of reducing violence, all parties in Scotland would be. We don’t want the label of the most violent country in Europe.
This is a situation that was made by government. They claim they were trying to tackle it using law and justice agenda. They’re trying to police a situation that they have contributed to greatly. Do you think these young people who are behaving the way that they’re behaving, engage with the media to even know there’s a lack of police? These young kids – they see police every single day. That’s part of the problem, they’re being oppressed and harassed by the police continually. And the rest of the public sector is in the pockets of the police.
They’ve built a system that kicks young black kids out of schools at a very early age, they stigmatise them with the type or label meaning gangs and they remove all services from them.
The stigma of being in a gang even means they become marginalised and ostracised within their own communities. The system that has created this has to stop. The multi-agency approach where everybody in the system is looking to structural characteristics to identify gang members is misinterpreting the behaviours of young people. What the system needs to do is build the capacity of our community. The Oliver Letwin letters[showing that inner-city black communities were denied funding on the basis they would waste it all on the “drug and disco trade”]: every government since seems to have been led by the policy in that letter.
Our black voluntary sector has been decimated. As a 17 year old I went to prison for three years, when I came out of prison I was supported by the black voluntary sector. They built my capacity to be able to work with others who looked like me, represent others who look like me and reach my potential. The black voluntary sector would have made sure these kids didn’t feel so isolated and marginalised and angry that they would carry out the kinds of heinous and violent disgusting crimes that they’re doing today.