About an Angry Boy

Thrown out of French …. Again.

Cricket Practice cancelled…Again!

Average day at school for a 12-year-old “A” grade student who hates French lessons. Now he is home early and impatient to get changed into his football kit and get over the fields. Peter Osgood. He was always Peter Osgood. The number nine sown on his shirt and shorts by his Nan. She had to sow strips of white cloth down the side of the shorts to make them authentic like Peter Osgood’s. Back in the day. Way back in the day!

Something’s not right. He’s in the front room. TV, sofa and easy chair. All in place. What is it that’s got him spooked? His Dad’s policemans uniform is thrown all around the place. He recognises the mess. It looks like the way his bedroom was intended to look in about 5 minutes time as he rushed to get out of his school uniform and into football kit in 30 seconds flat!

Noise upstairs from his parent’s bedroom.

Keep it quiet she said. Best nobody knows. All a mistake it’ll just blow over!

Then he is chasing the taxi cab down the road shouting obscenities and throwing bricks. Kept it quiet just like she asked. Scared to death of his Dad finding out that he knew but never told. 3 months of not being able to look her or him in the eye. Now she’s gone. He feels sadness, pain and most of all guilt!

Cries of pain from Jason the family dog are ringing in the air. He meanwhile has a knife being held to his throat. Its 1 year later and he has a new step mum and two older step brothers. The oldest step brother is 16 and thinks it is funny to kick dogs while wearing steel toe cap boots. He is beside himself with anger but the step brother’s older friend holding the knife to his throat is pressing it hard to the point of breaking the skin. He is 13 and his assailant 18 it is a bit of a mismatch. The older boy is a bully, part of a gang who terrorise kids younger than them who do not support the same team. Peter Osgood would never have played for Arsenal!

Some months later he wakes up in the middle of the night. His Dad is slapping him around the head. He takes the beating. Hard to argue that he is responsible for the state of his two step brothers as the dry blood on his hands is pretty incriminating.

Standing outside the head teacher’s office with his dad in full police uniform standing beside him. He is full of shame and guilt. He refuses to say why he has committed the crime. The chisel had punctured the skin of the 6th former but luckily not done any worse damage. He is expelled immediately even though he had always been a model pupil. Apart from in French classes that is. He didn’t want to explain that for months he had endured bullying from older pupils calling his mother a whore and a slag. It didn’t seem to matter to anyone but him. It is what his Dad had called her anyway!

Living with his Grandparents is not ideal. Theirs is not a relationship built on love. He loves them both but they constantly use him as a weapon against each other and a very confused boy is just becoming more and more insecure. He loves them dearly though. His granddad Billy is a proud Irishman who loves to tell tales of bar room battles when he had first moved to England. Woe betide any local Englishman who dared to take on Billy in a bare knuckle boxing bout outside the pub the challenge had been laid down in. His Grandmother meanwhile works three office cleaning jobs to pay the bills. She tells him tales about growing up in Ireland during the troubles. How once the British soldiers came to her home and tortured his Great grandmother in front of her by peeing in a cup of tea and making her drink it. They were called the Black and tans and they were looking for his Great granddad who was a member of the IRA.

One night his granddad Billy comes in drunk. More drunk than usual. His Granddad and Gran are shouting at each other. He is pleading with them to stop. Then his Gran is pushed to the floor. A red mist descends and his Grandfather is on the floor beside her.

The cold of the night is now biting deep into him. A cardboard box offers little resistance from the chill winter on the south bank of the river.

A boy will always need his mother and where she is now the landlady of a pub it seems a good sanctuary from the street life that had claimed him. He is 15 years young now and South London is his new adopted home.

He is hoping to find somewhere he can belong again. Call home again

At first he thinks a stray cat has entered the premises. He creeps down the stairs from the 5th floor room he is lodging in. Slowly he makes his way down to the ground floor where the pub has been closed for many hours. It must be at least 3pm in the morning. The whining and gargling sounds grow louder as he descends the final flight of stairs. What he sees as he turns the corner will stay with him forever. Regardless of what he had called her the night she left his Dad, she was still his Mum.

Seeing her with her hair pulled out, face covered in blood and bruises. Her Roman nose smashed beyond repair and blood and broken teeth dripping from her mouth. He vaguely recalls seeing the twisted and angry face of her assailant moving towards him. He knows the face well by now, it is the face of the man he had mistaken for his Dad that fateful day when his World had changed forever. The red mist descends again. Then he blacks out.

The nurse is hovering over him. His head is hurting like hell. He sees himself in the mirror. His head is bandaged like an Egyptian Mummy. He has had 8 stitches in the wound. They had to wait for the swelling to go down and make sure there was no fracture to the skull. His mum has hit him with a glass soda syphon from the pub bar.

Realising his mother had been a long-term alcoholic to the point she accepted a man who would beat her to the point of near death as her ideal partner was hard to deal with. Realising that she would choose the beast over her own son who would try to protect her was completely heart breaking

His stepfather’s wounds would heal quicker than his own broken heart and shattered spirit. A broken leg, fractured wrist and several busted ribs make his stepfathers life uncomfortable for a while but nothing his own alcoholism won’t help him deal with. However the facial disfigurement caused by the wine glass used to try to cut his eye out would leave him with a life long memory of how his own brutality had rebounded on him.

On his own again the boy accepts violence now as second nature. It hadn’t come naturally to him but now it acted as a cloak of protection. Hit out first before being hit. Hurt before being hurt yourself. It’s a twisted reality but for a period its the only reality he knows!

The Years pass, the Boy becomes a Man. His struggle with depression will not manifest until later in life when his long-term insecurity would lead him into troubled waters and he would seek solace in alcohol & drugs. The black dog of depression would start to haunt him after a business success turned to dust and his father contracted severe Altzheimers before they could finally make their peace.

He would have long since tamed the violence and the anger but the sadness remained. It was part of his family legacy. But he would survive

He is still surviving today!

 

“We are not on this earth to accumulate victories, things, and experiences… but to be whittled and sandpapered until what’s left is who we truly are” Arianna Huffington

FOOTNOTE:

If you know of a young person who you have reason to suspect may have encountered trauma in their life please encourage them to seek help – Depression can be harrowing for young people to deal with due the negative narrative and stigma attached to the term mental illness. Untreated though it will potentially cause anger and frustration that can all too easily lead to confrontational issues and in some cases violent tendencies.

It can be treated though. Those suffering in silence just need to be understood. To share their pain. To be assured they have a place in society. That things will get better if they allow people to help them

Mac – UK http://www.mac-uk.org/get-in-touch/contact-us/

The Amy Winehouse Foundation http://amywinehousefoundation.org/our-work/find-help/

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The Violence Debate

You get to be a little cynical about politicians and political agendas when you have been embattled in the London youth sector for as long as I have. Back in 2011 when the dust was settling from all the heavy handed anti-youth rhetoric the Government was using, it seemed there might finally be a wind change blowing in when the lights seemed to come on and the root causes of the disruption became clear. Our young people were fed up with lack of opportunity. Fed up with being over policed. Fed up with their youth clubs being closed. Fed up with being socially immobile.

It had taken a significant spark for things to kick off the way they did and then in the aftermath young people had to endure the accusation made by Government and media that they had been “youth riots” when this was not accurate. Young people had of course been involved and many arrested and dealt with very severely by the courts but there were many more involved that were over 25 so labeling them youth riots was unjust. With youth unemployment levels in London also heading towards an all- time high young people were getting a really rough deal all round. The wind change appeared to come when the Government started talking about investment and development in deprived urban areas. The kind of investment that had previously been mooted back in the 80’s when Oliver Letwin was an ambitious young policy adviser to Margaret Thatchers Government.

So yes, you get to be cynical – We have seen very little investment in young people from deprived areas since 2011. The wind change was just hot air. More and more youth services have been cut while the negativity towards young people has intensified due the stereotyping of urban youth as gangsters or affiliated gang members. If you read certain newspapers you would believe that the only young people who are not active gang members are “reformed” gang members. The truth about the achievements of the vast majority of young people who are a credit to their communities is rarely, if ever mentioned

Politicians promised much too young people after the riots in 2011 but delivered little. The Mayor of London meanwhile invested in water cannons just in case the frustration boiled over again and then he installed a Gang Tsar in City Hall. What’s a gang Tsar you ask? Good question!

On Thursday, March 3rd 2016 my cynicism subsided a little when a politician stood tall in the House of common’s main chamber and staged a debate on the issues underpinning serious youth violence and gangs. Only a handful of politicians attended unfortunately but it still made giant strides forward in as much as the issue of serious youth violence and gang culture had never been debated in the main House of Commons chamber before. Chuka Umunna had been briefed by some of the most authentic young practitioners in the youth sector earlier in the day on issues such as the need to better understand exactly what a gang is. What the difference is between disengaged young people frustrated by lack of support and opportunity and actual criminally motivated gangsters. How kids that had got embroiled in criminal activity can be educated to use the skills they learn illicitly to reform and become entrepreneurs in mainstream society. How with investment they can become an asset not a burden to society.

There is little doubt that crime among young people both as victims and perpetrators is growing and also the evidence from young people and research organisations is that young people have never felt less safe on our streets. It is no use the Police and authority bodies claiming that crime is dropping when young people are saying they do not feel safe. It is a dereliction of duty and care not to better investigate the root causes of violence in young people’s lives if they are feeling threatened. It is also an attack on the human rights of young people coming from certain areas and backgrounds to have them “labelled” as gang members simply because it ticks a box!

I was glad to have been able to play a role supporting the debate and was also happy to have supported the digital version a week earlier. It was apparently the most successful ever digital debate the House of Commons had staged. Further evidence that violence is an issue which truly does concern people. Young people especially.
Something I have found disturbing for a long time is the Constance reference to the term “Youth Violence”. As a young person stated at an event I attended recently “The media make it appear that it is the word YOUTH that is the guilty word!”

Let us be clear, this is Society violence first and foremost. Society broadcasts violence into people’s lives 24/7 in one format or another. Society promotes, glamorises and profits from violence then wags its finger at young people when they resort to using it. Yes of course I appreciate that not all young people feel the impulse to be violent and the vast majority would not dream of hurting another human being. The fact is though that in a lot of young lives especially where there is disadvantage and frustration, violence can all too easily become normalised through the social harm inflicted on them as victims themselves in one way or another.

It was refreshing to hear the House of Commons debating the issues and demonstrating empathy in wanting to better understand the root causes of how violence manifests in young lives. This was an all-party debate and the empathy was coming from all corners of the chamber.
David Lammy MP for Tottenham made a good point when he was brave enough to suggest that there are too many organisations and charities operating in the sector for them to be effective. He is absolutely right. With little funding available and a lack of cohesive strategy many of these organisations spend more time bid funding and competing against one another than they actually spend time helping and supporting young people. It is the nature of the way things have gone especially since austerity was introduced. It is also a fact that the bigger charities are able to employ highly paid professional bid writers who speak the same language as the funding agencies. Bid writing is now a degree course in university!

I can say with some certainty that the excessive overheads, staff salaries and expenses much maligned at Kids Company since its closure would not have been that different from many of the bigger charities in the sector. Then you have the “cash guzzlers” in the form of huge service provision corporations like G4S that operate in and around the fringes of selected services especially where the Justice system is concerned. With so little money being made available as it is to the sector by the time money filters down to the “coal face” grass roots organisations to say it is tough to make ends meet is the hugest of understatements. These smaller organisations tend to be run by young people who have experienced trauma themselves and as such understand much better than most what young people need. What works and what doesn’t. The big corporations depriving them of resource is a huge social injustice all on its own!

The parliamentary debate was refreshing, perhaps a real wind change might now finally be on the horizon. Maybe the all- party commission Parliament has agreed to sanction might actually consider all the issues. Might look much more deeply at the social harm that underpins the violence. Might start to question the myth of so many young people being gangsters. Might start to understand the big responsibility that society itself has by creating bad role models for young people through reality TV shows for instance. Maybe look at how young people are targeted from the cradle by the big brands. How marketers use certain images and subliminal messaging to convince kids with low self- esteem in poor areas that if they wear their brands then their lives will be improved. The role these big brands and the media promoting them play in helping turn a percentage of disadvantaged children into drug dealers through the materialism they help instill in them. Society blurs the lines between want and need and the big brands and media play a big part in this

Can we reverse the trend of violence that is leading to teenagers running around stabbing each other so indiscriminately that only the skill of overworked Junior Doctors in A&E departments is keeping the death toll lower than it otherwise would be? I think that society needs to look long and hard at the role it plays in promoting and profiting from graphic violence first.
It has to own the problem before it can resolve it and then it has to invest in better, more cohesive strategies for supporting and helping the grass root organisations struggling at the coal face. These grass root companies in turn need to be better regulated and encouraged to align in partnership. There does not need to be less practitioners there just needs to be better resourced collaborative partnerships and far more cohesive strategies. David Lammy is right, less could indeed achieve more.

I am optimistic that solutions to the problems underpinning extreme violence can be found but for this too happen it is imperative to bring some stability to a sector that is far too competitive and over populated. There are some great small charities and Community Interest Companies out there whose authentic experience could be much better harnessed if the right support structures were in place. I think that in London the Greater London Authority and the elected London Assembly councilors could play a bigger role and that a cooperative style body from the charity sector could be created to work alongside them to help install the changes needed

Most importantly though we need to involve young people in the processes and give them the support they need to actually lead and play an active part in supporting themselves and laying foundations for their younger peers. This cannot be token it has to be a real and credible role and it cannot be politically controlled. As Chuka Umunna stated at the outset of the debate, “this is not a political issue and it must not be about scoring political points”. It is however about giving disadvantaged young people the opportunity to realise their potential and play an active part in society and to do this we need to invest in them as a society, understand them as a society and most importantly of all, keep them protected as a society.

That wonderful old African saying “It takes a village to raise a Child” – How about we adopt the saying “It takes an entire society to keep its Children safe?”

 

Gary Trowsdale

Founder – The Spirit of London Awards

Branding

How many times have you seen a reference for “Youth Violence” this week? It seems that pretty much every time we pick up a newspaper or switch on the TV news these days there’s yet another reference to it. Sadly very often where knives have been used. What used to be referenced as violent crime has now become “Youth Violence” if the perpetrators are under 25. But is it doing anything more than accentuating the problem by seeing the term turned into a virtual brand? Or worse…Branding!

I think it has led to extremely disproportionate stereotyping of BME (Black minority ethnic) youths especially those coming from areas where an above average crime problem is reported. Where theses areas are already socially challenged due to low levels of average income per household seeing them fall below the poverty threshold we have almost a perfect storm of social harm affecting young people if they are not able to attain a good enough standard of education enabling them to find employment.

With extremely high unemployment prevalent among young people in London we have a toxic mix of negative ingredients  Hardly surprising therefore that when they are being heavily targeted by the big brands with consumerism, crime becomes an option for some with low self esteem one of the main factors. Where there is also a lack of hope ambition is thwarted and replaced by a survival mentality. This is where many end up drawn to the gang culture we hear so much about. I personally think the whole gang issue is over hyped by the authorities and the Police especially, but also by the media where it seems to suit them to have the problem labelled in this way.

Organised crime gangs have been around in London for centuries. When England won the World cup in 1966 the Kray twins gang was dominating East and North London while the equally notorious Richardson gang held sway over most of South. Today if you believe the hype their are literally hundreds of gangs operating across the 32 Boroughs with their turf wars focused around inner city post codes. “Organised crime gangs” or disparate groups from the same socially deprived backgrounds indulging in criminal activity? The second option doesn’t quite sound so exciting a label does it?

Society needs to do more to help the disadvantaged BEFORE the stage of turning to crime is reached. Most poignantly though in my opinion the biggest onus is on society itself to own the problem of violent crime and reclaim the title ownership given to young people. It is not “Youth violence” it is “violence” pure and simple and where weapons are involved it is violent crime.

Young people are being marginalised by this attaching of a label and the racial profiling that goes with it in our inner cities. This is especially evident where stop and search is applied. It is clear where knife crime is a problem then this tactic will continue to be seen as a deterrent and to keep the innocent protected and safe and as such I don’t think it should be discontinued. I do think the racial profiling has to stop though and at the same time the elephant in the room regarding the disproportionate actual use of knives by black youths needs to be discussed more openly. We are never going to see a problem solved if we close our eyes to its existence and the statistics are beyond argument. Why this has come about is another issue altogether of course and is steeped in Socio-economics and demographically deep rooted society problems. Society itself being the predominant guilty party for the cause and consequence without a shadow of a doubt in my mind.

The work we embarked on with the One Big Community (1bc) project in 2013 will I hope help to unravel some of the underlying problems especially in terms of how violence has been manifesting in the lives of young people at such an early age to the point it has become normalised to so many especially those in poorer communities.

http://onebigcommunity.org.uk/about-us/

Many factors have contributed to this and this is where the work carried out by the 1bc team was so invaluable. Over the last 12 months we have assembled a super team of professional advisers and community experts to help shape the final stage of the projects delivery “Sounding Out London” – We hope the final outcome will be a comprehensive solution recommendations based report to both the London MP’s who operate on the front line of the problem as it were and also to the new Mayoral regime settling into City Hall later this Year.

If this is a subject matter that interests you then you might also find my colleague Dr Leroy Logan MBE a good source of experienced comment and insightful opinion :

https://leroylogan2016.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/is-there-fear-of-our-streets/

Thanks for taking the time to read and please feel free to leave a comment.

 

@garytrowsdale

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Sounding Out London

Its been a long time since my blog announcing the intentions of the project we called “One Big Community – 1bc” – Much water has passed under the proverbial bridge, Had the great privilege of working with some wonderful young people. They pulled together huge events – Trended number 1 in the UK when launching with one of the biggest ever independent on-line debates – Took over City Hall to stage the first event that heralded the start of their youth consultation project “Sounding Out London” and ran an amazing residential in Kent to really get the ball rolling with workshops exploring the root causes of youth violence.

Amazing energy – So many unsung young heroes.

The team tried hard to pull as many youth organisations and authority bodies together behind the project as possible – One Big Community – What it says on the tin – This was the vision and the ethos – My quote about it taking a whole City to keep its kids safe taken from the wonderful old African sentiment that it takes a whole village to raise a child – Its true. this should be an ambition shared by all – We have lost far too many teenagers on our streets. It never seems to stop. It has to stop!

But lets look at the term “Youth Violence” It is seen so much in the media it is almost like its treated as a brand – This has to stop also – Violence is a man made phenomenon not something that just fell out of the air.

I feel that we have to look at how violence has been manifesting in young peoples lives – We live in a far more violent society today than the one our parents grew up in – Television – Films – Video Games – Everywhere you turn gratuitous violence is widespread and embedded in our culture – Look at the way the big brands target poor children almost from the cradle. Yes, poor children. The big brands are enterprising and callous in the extreme – It is all about profits. They clothe/feed… endorse the kind of music artists and sports stars the kids aspire to be like then they invest many millions of pounds advertising their products in inner city areas – The “mood” advertising normally tends to reflect “attitude” as much as inspiration – It is not just the clothing brands it is far more widespread than that – It ignites materialism in young minds from a very early age – Kids with struggling parents or no parents at all – How they going to afford this “stuff” ? Does Mental Health in young people also get affected by the pressure young people in poor areas are put under? I certainly think so!

I think the adult world needs take a long hard look at itself – Even the 24 hour news channels now showing looped tape coverage of terrorist outrages – Which is exactly what the terrorists want of course…Why do we need to see the violent scenes repeated over and over? The media and the big brands that pay their wages – More responsibility is needed. Can we stop the plague of teenager killing teenager? We have to believe we can – Most importantly though we must listen more to the youth of London – Give them a platform to be heard from so that they can be fully engaged in the finding of solutions to problems that they are most affected by.

Politicians, authority bodies – Media owners and the brands.. Must be made to listen. Far more young people are victims of crime than are perpetrators – And these kids, especially those from BME backgrounds, are victims many times over. The stereotyping that comes with the territory if you live in certain crime affected poor areas is also widespread. We can end this if we give young people the positive platform most of them already rightfully belong on. The more young peoples voices can be heard the better – Not just those that have transgressed by the way – This is a sinister trait of the authority bodies that these are the only young people ever paid any attention too – There are far more budding young entrepreneurs and good upstanding citizens among BME youth than their are gang members. Not that you would believe it if your a white middle class bank executive from the shires reading the London Evening Standard on the way home from your City Office!

We need our young people to be better enabled to speak directly to City Hall on issues that affect them. It should not be rocket science for a coalition of youth organisations and charities to come together in the way 1bc was intended so that a well constructed, sustainable and independent youth assembly can be developed – What better way for the next Mayor of London to best informed on youth issues?

I am getting on my bike (actually it is my good friend Winstone’s bike lol) tomorrow to ride 100 miles in the Prudential Ride London event raising money for Cambridge House the host of the project.

I am not as fit as a fiddle but it is still the best way I could think of to spend my 56th Birthday!!

Please feel free to support if you have the inclination

https://www.justgiving.com/Gary-Trowsdale/?utm_id=7

Be blessed not stressed… Thanks!

G x

One Big Community

They have a wonderful saying in Africa that “It takes a whole village to raise a child” – With 152 teenagers murdered on the streets of London since 2005 perhaps it is about time we adopted the attitude that “It takes a whole City to keep our children safe” – Every time a child dies on the streets of London a piece of London dies with them. With 7 deaths already this Year it is time to say enough is enough – It is time to make a stand. It is not enough to point fingers and blame others – London is OUR city and this is OUR problem – The Police cannot solve the problem alone, in fact without the support of the entire London community they have no chance of solving it at all.

We set up the Spirit of London Awards in 2008 as a legacy project for all the young people that we had lost senselessly – We wanted to show the World the reality about our young people, that the vast majority of them are good and that a large percentage are exceptional – What we wanted to do above all else through the strength of our investment and endeavors was to create a network of empowered young people who more than any other demographic group wanted to see solutions to the negative issues affecting our inner city areas.

A few weeks ago one of the young people that have come through the Spirit of London awards nominations sent me an email asking for my help. Jeremiah Emanuel is 13 Years old and was nominated last Year as a Young London hero for his work as Deputy Youth Mayor of Lambeth – His friend had been stabbed to death in a stairwell in Wandsworth. The Police said he had been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time – A victim of the gang culture bullying that is all so often now getting out of hand – Jeremiah wanted to make a stand – He told me he knew far too many young people that had either lost their lives or been hurt as a result of gang culture and he wanted to do something positive to try and stop it.

Now we are helping him mobilise the youth of London to come together as ONE BIG COMMUNITY for a day of youth empowerment to show the World they want the violence to stop – We want to mobilise the entire London community to stand behind them – These young people are our future and we all share the responsibility of keeping them safe – We know that there are problems in our inner city areas with poverty and deprivation rife in many of them – There can be no excuse for murder though and the culture of violence, the knife and the gun, has no place in a civilised society.

We want to see every one of the 32 Boroughs involved and already the youth management team have connected with a large percentage of them. They are working with SOMEWHERE TO and Livity to find the best locational venue to stage the event and will then announce the date.

We need to support them 100% to the hilt and everybody in London needs to make an effort to mobilise the youth of their own area to get involved.

Please email info@onebigcommunity.org.uk for more information and to be added to the support database.

These are OUR kids, they are OUR responsibility – Lets show them how much we care!

Thanks

Gary

Right to Fight

On September 20th 2008 I managed an event called “The Peoples march against Knife crime” after 29th deaths of teenagers on London streets that Year something drastic needed to be done and when we brought together 63 victim families in total to march and speak as one voice we hoped it would lead to politicians and media owners taking the problem of youth violence more seriously and investing in the positive solutions needed to end the cycle. Sadly this was not the case.

The new Mayor of London supplied us with a video to show on a large screen we erected in Hyde Park – It was a message intended to support our initiative – He spoke about the Olympics planned for 2012 and also his Bike scheme – He congratulated those present for their ambition to see an end to the violence and for doing something positive.

One of the victim family members present on the march was an ex British light heavyweight boxing champion called Mark Prince. Mark lost his son Kyian to youth violence in 2006 – His son was captain of the England youth football team and touted as a future England captain. I met Mark at a planning meeting we staged in Islington with family members of Ben Kinsella who had tragically been killed a couple of months back – It was a sombre setting but Mark was typically upbeat and determined despite his pain which was still raw and very evident – This is the kind of guy he is.

Fast forward almost 5 Years and Mark is seeking a return of his boxing license so that he can return to the ring and fight for a living – His desire and passion fuelled by his need to carry on his youth empowerment work – sadly he has fallen victim to the cuts and the economic crisis and so has turned to the only trade he knows – The noble art of boxing.

I have seen Mark working with kids and seen first hand how impressive he is as a role model and mentor – The youth identify with him both for how real and accessible he is but also how inspirational he remains despite his loss. He really believes in young people and they identify with this very clearly.

The work that Mark does is vital and if we are going to ever see an end to the cycle of violence that continues to blight London’s inner city communities then people like him need support and investment – he is now fitter and more focused than in his heyday – He is 44 he is not a spring chicken. Plenty of fighters older than him are still fighting however and do not have the same drive and desire – I do not believe the Boxing Board of Control should be depriving us of the opportunity to see mark Prince climb back in the ring.

Every punch Mark throws he will throw for every one of us fighting youth violence. This is not about winning titles this is about making a difference.

In 5 Years in office the Mayor of London has done nothing to even come close to even helping to find solutions to the problems our inner city communities face. His investment record in youth projects is atrocious and apart from the boy scouts and girl guides he seems completely detached.

Mark Prince is the kind of hero we need so if you are reading this blog I implore you to show support through social networks or by emailing your support to the British Boxing Board of Control admin@bbbofc.com and let its Chairman Mr Charles Giles know your views.

Mark can be found on twitter @markno1prince and the hash tag I would ask you to include in any message is #ReturnOfThePrince

I know that Mark has the full support of many other victim families including Richard Taylor and Brooke Kinsella who were both part of that momentous Peoples March and who remain two of the most prominent campaigners against youth violence in the Country.

 

Thanks

Gary

Warrior, Hero, Poet

Dean Atta invite

“Silence is not Golden, Silence is the truth stolen” an exert from the poem “Revolution” which first brought Dean Atta to my attention in 2009 when he was nominated for the Achievement through the Arts award for our inaugural SOLA 2009 – It is an extremely poignant and compelling piece of work by a very brave and talented artist.

I have been extremely lucky to meet many inspirational, passionate and ambitious young people along the SOLA  journey – Our vision with SOLA is for it to become a movement of empowered young people – Dean is a stand out though even amongst the enormous depth of talent the SOLA network consists of – His sword weilded in the shape of his words while his shield is his humility – A word smith warrior…

I was stood by the side of the stage when Dean recited “Legacy” a poem he created as a tribute for Damilola Taylor and all the other youngsters lost to senseless youth violence – It was 27 November the actual tenth anniversary of Damilola’s death and the setting was SOLA 2010 – In the audience were many of the families and siblings whose lost angels Dean was honouring with his words – The emotion was raw but the moment immense!

Dean became the creative Director for the show itself in 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall and has been instrumental in the development of the SOLA school road show – He was also back stage last Year at SOLA 2012 a beacon of calm as chaos and carnage reined all around him – A SOLA hero

On Monday 11 March he has his first book published – Its title is not meant to shock it serves to educate – This vile and evil word is brought to its knees by Deans words – Struck down by his sword.

If there is any justice in the world (With thanks Lemar!) then the book will be a best seller and act as a precursor to Deans right of passage to becoming poet laureate …..

DEAN ATTA – Warrior – Hero – Poet…………. FRIEND!