Gary Trowsdale explains why he thinks the commission is the right move forward.

Choices. In an ideal world all the choices we have to make are good ones and the end result is good, not just for the person making them but society at large. The world we live in is far from ideal though. For some young people, choices are limited and temptation to make bad ones are always close at hand. Society suffers the consequences. This is not an excuse, just a reality borne out of social inequality in my experience.

Living in South London all my adult life I see the harsh realities of inequality all around me every day. It is not about sub cultures and ghettos, it’s about status and individual realities. Young people get told to “live the dream” – The background of their family life or lack of one means some are struggling to see where their next meal is coming from let alone having time to dream. Escapism comes in the form of must have material goods – Status symbols. These they will look to acquire by whatever means necessary. This is their world and it is far from ideal!

In my last blog for the Huffington Post I wrote about the Parliamentary debate on youth violence I had supported. Well now I am proud to say that I am a special advisor to the All Party Commission that the debate led to. It will launch on the 12th July at South Bank University and I believe it is going to lead to real change. Why am I confident about this? Because of the people and organisations being brought together to support the project that’s why. Seasoned professionals, socially empowered citizens and young community leaders all passionate about finding solutions to one of the worse problems blighting society.

Whatever the political rights and wrongs of austerity there is no argument that things have been getting progressively tougher for youth organisations and charities operating in the youth sector. On top of this the Police have faced huge cuts which in turn has led to frustration and a low morale amongst their ranks. None of which helps when it comes to finding solutions to a problem which was escalating long before 2010.

So why do I think that this commission will be any different from the many Parliamentary Home Affairs committee investigations that have reviewed the issues before? Firstly because this is a commission tasked with finding solutions not just compiling a report for the Government. This is about a dedicated team of MP’s working alongside a coalition from the youth sector trying to piece together where the gaps are in provision and compiling a report the outcomes of which will be implemented during the life cycle of this current Government. And that is hugely important

Our democratic processes tend to revolve around the 5 year cycles of elections. In a lot of ways this is totally understandable but in my experience when it comes to seeking solutions to deep rooted social ills it can be unhelpful in the extreme. What is needed to tackle the biggest challenges our society faces is long term planning and sustainable investment. This commission won’t change things in terms of political process but if it can implement a programme of grass roots initiative’s with a strategic vision of sustainable support than I believe it can be ground breaking.

Most importantly though it is about people and I have great faith and belief in the people who are pulling this all together. I also believe that the grass roots social entrepreneurs and youth services provision orgs in the mix will be fully engaged to support for all the right reasons. A shared belief that things have to be done differently if we are ever to see an end to the cycle of violence

I have a huge passion for this personally and my drum beat is that the whole of society needs to man up and fix up to the fact that it bears responsibility for violence and its manifestation in young people’s lives especially in poorer communities. That’s not only the authority bodies and community orgs but also the media and big brands that target young people. The big brands have huge influence and sway with young people so why should we not expect them to help in any way they can to support keeping them safe?

This could be simply by the support of generic marketing campaigns scoped out to maximise market penetration and awareness. One simple but dynamic message that carrying knives is not cool. We are long past the point of blame culture it gets us nowhere. All in it together. If this can be the mantra of the commission then it will not fail to have an impact. And we need to do things differently if we are too effect real change. We need to find solutions whereby positive choices are easier to make and for those finding themselves trapped in a negative cycle of bad choices the escalation to extreme violence is either neutered or at the very least contained.

Overly simplistic thinking or just idealism? I am under no illusions this is a far from easy task. If it was we would not have been having the debate and setting up a commission like this in the first place.

I have been thinking about this problem very deeply for a very long time. It is not about living the dream it is about finding solutions whereby every young person is given the opportunity to dream and the support structure to make the right choices. Choices. If having read this blog you feel you have something to offer yourself in any way to the Commission by way of support then please sign up on the website.

This post was written by Joe Watts

June 22, 2016 8:32 pm Leave your thoughts

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