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I would like to start by thanking ROTA for inviting me to write this article for its 10th Anniversary publication. ROTA has made a significant impact on the policy front, in matters relating to race in particular, for which it is to be congratulated.
City Parochial Foundation, a grant-making trust established in 1891 to benefit the poor of London is one ROTA's many supporters and funders. This article is written as a personal contribution so the views expressed are my own, and whilst I am grateful to my CPF colleagues and for their comments and advice, this article should not be attributed to CPF. Having said as much, I am, of course, influenced to a significant extent by the applications CPF receives from voluntary and charitable organisations. I am similarly influenced by my own experiences: I am a migrant to Britain, an Asian born in Africa who moved to Britain as a teenager.
May 1997 saw the election of a new Labour Government. This was followed by an unprecedented period for a labour government to be in office. Tony Blair remained in post for most of that period with Gordon Brown as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister in 2007. 1997 and the period thereafter ushered in, amongst other reforms...
As an 18 year old female and member of Building Bridges Project Team, set up by ROTA to look at London’s gun, gang and knife culture, I have experienced first hand the impact and benefits of being involved and given ownership of research. Prior to this experience I always believed that young people should be given a voice, and that their opinions really mattered, but I couldn’t put my finger on why - or how these opinions should be gathered. Being involved in a youth led and youth owned project has given me those answers.
Gun, gang and knife 'culture' affects everybody. The impact is not exclusive to any age group and requires a concern and response from society en masse. However, when it is talked about in the media, and often politically, it is us as young people who feel the strain, the responsibility and the consequences greatest. Furthermore, the fear that this creates is felt by us directly on a daily basis - as we travel to and from school, go out at night etc. We do make up the statistics of those killed, the victims are getting younger. We are more likely to be stop and searched by the police and over-policed in other ways as a result of all of the above. To quote we often feel 'over-policed and under-protected'.
Whether this feeling reflects the reality or not is not what is important. The fact that we do fear, the fact that death and fear of attack is a general part of our lives is what is important. As the ‘children’ of our society we seem to straddle between having limited rights and powers – from the obvious examples of not having the vote, to being described as items of clothing - ‘hoodie’ to more recent developments of being dispersed from shop corners using...