Friday, 27 January 2012


Sad news today. The latest young man to have killed himself in a young offenders' institution was someone I worked with recently at a summer arts programme, one aimed at trying to keep the most troublesome youth off the streets in the holidays. Alex was 15. He was times near impossible...each success offset by a provocative or downright stupid act. He was a bully, a baby, bright, challenging. He certainly made an impression on us all.  I gained a great deal from working with him, and even if I didn't always show it,  learned patience and restraint as we struggled with his behaviour.  Despite the challenges I am happy to have met him.

"We need to become 'wise before the event' and avoid locking up our most vulnerable young people in our bleakest institutions”
Juliet Lyon. Prison Reform Trust
So true, and we can and will point fingers at HMP Cookham Wood, social services, parents, society, peers, yet never really know the truth behind Alex's pain. What I DO know is that  governments  have been steadily stealing funding away from early intervention with at-risk young people, and were doing this well before this latest recession. There are many many organisations doing fantastic work with children of all ages who are falling between the cracks educationally, socially and emotionally - and these groups have lost much or all of their funding.
Of course I miss the money too - working with these small groups and Youth Offending Teams has been a source of income for a few years... but it is far more than this. I miss this funding because these children and young people have very few chances to turn their lives around or glimpse a better way of being, and once these all too slender lifelines have gone, they will have absolutely nothing.

1 comment:

  1. So so true, the enormous pressure our youth of today endure is immense. Long gone are the carefree days of childhood, no time to be, to play outside with mates. School pressure is out of all proportion and if you're not academic you are a failure from the very beginning and as success breeds success you are unlikely ever to reach your potential. Social pressures too are enormous. We need to identify and help these kids almost all anger and rebellion is a cry for help.