The independent London newspaper

What is our role in life if we don’t support each other?

11 April, 2019

A COMING together of the community in the Queen’s Crescent area took place in an extraordinary way on Tuesday, (Starmer’s knife crime lament: We simply can’t allow this to continue, April 11).

It didn’t express itself simply in the wide cross-section of people gathered in the local community centre but in what some of them stood up and said – down-to-earth, insightful, calling a thing by its proper name.

Theirs was the language that took no prisoners. In comparison, statements by the representatives of the authorities seemed bland and predictable.

In searching for causes of knife crime, for example, you can refer – as politicians and the commentariat do – to the shortage of youth facilities.

Or you can say, as one middle-aged woman in the audience cried out: “Why are our children being thrown onto the streets?”

She, as well as other members of the audience, referred to how youth clubs had been closed down, the government’s austerity programme being the guilty party. But, put another way, being “thrown on the streets” does expose the cruelty of this policy in almost savage terms.

If once youngsters had somewhere to go and now that is denied to them, what is this if not being “thrown onto the streets”? If only politicians spoke more like this!

Another middle-aged black woman asked a question, rarely heard in the public discourse: Why isn’t there a youth centre primarily for black youngsters?

There was, in fact, such a centre in the 1980s and early 1990s in King’s Cross but the usual funding problems by the council killed it off. The question merits a debate.

But perhaps the most telling moment came when Kito Soki, a youth worker for the community centre, asked a question that touched the very heart of the social crisis hardening around society: What are we living for? What is our role in life?

You could say this was more suitable for a sermon or posed by a philosopher but not at a public meeting. But he expanded on it by asking that everyone after leaving the meeting should ask themselves: Are they supporting each other or are they “disconnected”?

This goes to the core of the meaning of society. If we saw society in this way, wouldn’t there be a greater provision of youth facilities? And how long would the “austerity” programme be allowed to last?

Share this story

Post a comment