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What is needed are real opportunities and training

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The situation is being made worse by the lack of facilities and opportunities for young people.
Issue 1923

The situation is being made worse by the lack of facilities and opportunities for young people.

“Young people see less and less opportunities open to them,” says Beccy Palmer.

“Youth centres are being closed down. In Brent alone the numbers have gone from 39 to three.

“I took a group to an art project in central London. Half of them had never been to central London before.

“Top-up fees prevent working class kids from going to university. And the alternative? Job Seeker Plus, work placement that leaves 60 percent out of work within six months. Or at best some menial job earning minimum wage.”

A group of youth workers in London have issued an open letter to David Blunkett which they hope to launch at the European Social Forum.

The letter says, “We experience day to day the effect that the constant media barrage and continuous government attacks through policy has on young people, their families and communities. What are needed are real opportunities, meaningful training and secure properly paid employment.

“We do not wish to minimise the effect of crime on anyone. In fact some of us have experienced it ourselves.

“But the vast majority of young people do not commit crime, and those that do need the right support and a chance to realise their own potential.”

Another youth worker told Socialist Worker, “All sorts of behaviour is now being labelled as anti-social.

“ABSOs mean that young people can get locked up for trivial things, like playing football, swearing or wearing hats.

“Successive governments have stripped money out of the youth services that did help prevent bad behaviour.

“Now they are pumping money into punitive measures like ASBOs. But there is no evidence that they will work.”

The government is ruthlessly pursuing its stategy.

Last October the government launched an Anti-social Behaviour Action Plan.

Since then there has been a massive increase in the number of ASBO units in local and regional police forces.

Some £65 million of public money is being devoted to this clampdown.

Between April 1999 and March 2004, 2,455 orders were issued, more than half of them within the last year.

Those at the sharp end of the ASBOs are beginning to organise to raise awareness of how damaging they can be.

At the European Social Forum there will be a meeting on “Youth crime: myths and realities”. Young people will speak out about their experience of the judicial system, their views on government policies and media hysteria. It will be held on Friday 9am at Birkbeck.

To celebrate Black History Month, young people will be performing a play they have written which explores racism and Islamophobia on Saturday at 12 noon, at the London Welsh Centre.

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