Girls Giving Back - Part 2

18 November 2017

Back in the spring, we wrote a blog post about a Nearly New sale that Urban Hope Girls Club hosted to raise money for causes they wanted to support in the local community. The sale raised nearly £700, which the girls decided they wanted to use to contribute to the work of Solace Women's Aid, a charity supporting women and children affected by domestic violence. Solace specified that they most needed children's duvet covers and board games. They also asked for toiletries, which the girls wrapped up in welcome parcels to be given out to women arriving at the refuge.

We are really proud of all the thought, effort and time that the girls have put into making a positive difference in their community this year.

link to this story

 

One of the things we like to do at Urban Hope is to give people the opportunity to spend time with and understand the lives of people they wouldn’t otherwise meet. So, we invite adults with different careers and interests to volunteer here so that Urban Hopefuls can hear about a wide spectrum of different ways to live life. We’d like that to go both ways, for adults to have a chance to hear more about the lives of young people growing up in Islington today. So we’ve been inviting Urban Hopefuls to give us a snapshot of what is going on in their lives now. This week we heard from a young woman of 18 who has been part of Urban Hope for a couple of years:

The things I like are drawing, reading, swimming and gaming. I did a college course in construction, painting and decorating but I’m now looking to do a different course in special effects make-up. I’ve got a part time job at McDonalds. I live on my own, and my mum thinks I don’t use my resources well enough but prices have gone up, and I struggle a lot. I think finding work is difficult for people my age – people are less likely to hire us because we don’t have much experience.

Teenagers get a bad rap. A lot of teenagers drop out of school because they think it’s not for them. I had a horrible time in secondary school, I was bullied and nothing was done about it. I know a lot of teenagers who carry knives because they feel unsafe, and they’re not told what to do in difficult situations. Adults and the older generation think we have so much because we have computers and stuff but I feel really isolated.

I worry that I’m not going to do well and get where I want to get. In the past when I was worried I used to self harm but I haven’t done that for a while so I’m proud of that. I matured quite fast because of crap that happened in my life. When I was younger my mum didn’t know any other mothers so there were no other kids around, I was mostly around adults.

I find it hard to talk to people and make friends and not be weird. I’ve been cheated on in almost every relationship I’ve been in. Hopefully in five years I’ll be settled down with a nice job, and living in the countryside. I’d like to be able to have a partner who I can talk to, who can help me and I can help them; someone who you can have a laugh and a joke with but who can sit down and have a serious conversation too. I have depression and anxiety, and for me being happy is when I’m around people who understand and won’t judge me.

. . . read more

 

People regularly get in touch with us to ask if they can come along to an Urban Hope session; they might be considering a career in youth work, or they might be potential volunteers or funders. They are always welcome: we want members of the community to understand and get involved in what happens here, and, one of the most important aspects of that work is the connections that are made between people who might not otherwise come into contact with each other.

But, it can be a bit nerve-wracking for the team because there is a pressure to ‘show’ exactly what we’re doing, to demonstrate the difference we are making, and the truth is that youth work, done well, often doesn’t look like much. Someone visiting an Urban Hope session for the first time – particularly if it happens to be a quiet drop-in without any special activities laid on – might just see a handful of young people and adults milling about in a hall doing a bit of cooking and playing pool and table tennis.

It’s really only during the team debrief at the end of the evening that we find out what has actually happened in a session. Last week, after one such quiet session, we shared stories and heard that a boy who has been coming to Urban Hope for months, had finally felt safe enough to open up about the recent death of a parent, a youth worker had talked to some young people about their relationship with alcohol, there had been several chats about tensions with parents and at school, and some of the girls had talked with adults about underage sex and pregnancy. That first, open conversation a youth worker has with a young person who is seriously considering becoming pregnant is a potentially life-changing moment, but it doesn’t necessarily look very dramatic or interesting in the here and now.

link to this story

 

On Saturday, Urban Hope hosted Community Day at the Almorah Road Community Centre. It’s a free annual fun day that we run for families living in the local area. The weather was gloomy, the ground was a bit soggy and it was unusually cold for the start of September. But, more than 150 people turned up to play games, jump about on the bouncy castle, eat burgers and sausages, play bingo, get their nails or face painted, make things or just have a cup of tea and a chat with neighbours. The youngest was just a few days old, and the oldest over 90, but everyone who came contributed in some way: some brought sausages or a home-made cake, some served tea or helped to clear up, others played with small children, and some simply turned up, smiling, and made an effort to talk to everyone there.

It’s at events like this that connections are made. We love having a chance to meet the families of the young people we work with, and also giving local people of all ages an opportunity to have fun with those who they might not otherwise encounter in their daily lives. Each new conversation or interaction forms a valuable little link in our community.

Our thanks go out to everyone who played a part in what was a great celebration of our local area and the people who live there, and a fine way to mark the end of summer.

link to this story

 

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and the same is true for Urban Hope; much of what we do with young people at drop-in sessions revolves around the kitchen, and some of our best conversations happen while chopping vegetables. Last week, what could have been a tense discussion about age gaps in relationships and underage sex was made significantly less awkward because we were all making jam tarts while talking.

On at least one evening a week, we cook a full meal and eat together around a table. Again, it is an opportunity to get people sitting down in a group and sharing stories, experiences, concerns and bad jokes in a way that doesn’t feel contrived.

Last year, the Marple Charitable Trust awarded us a three-year grant, which covers all our cookery costs. As food and eating together play such a central role in the life of Urban Hope, it’s a great example of how a relatively small grant can make a huge difference to our work.

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Hey Mr DJ

13 May 2015

Joy writes…

I know all the words to the song ‘Ignition-Remix’ by R Kelly. So do the 31- and 25-year-old volunteers in the kitchen singing. The 14-year-old boy dancing with a pool cue when he thinks no one can see him knows them too, as do the two 16-year-old girls who are ‘cutting shapes’ in the full knowledge that everyone is watching.

I’m not suggesting ‘Ignition’ is an especially life-affirming song; the lyrics don’t stand up to a lot of scrutiny. But there’s something about that track that gets everyone moving and singing. Every Thursday for the last six weeks we’ve had it on our playlist (along with Rihanna’s ‘Pon de Replay’, ‘Flowers - Sunship Mix’ by Sweet Female Attitude, and ‘All I want’ by Mis-Teeq).

The soundtrack to each session matters: loud, upbeat music makes the halls feel full and busy even if there aren’t that many people around; chilled out house music creates space for chatting; aggressive rap puts people on edge (so we avoid too much of that). Our current Thursday night playlist unifies people. It gets them singing and dancing, and laughing together.

Part of our job is to cultivate an atmosphere in which we can do youth work. We make deliberate choices about most things, and music is one of them.

link to this story

 

Is anybody listening?

18 March 2015

Joy writes…

The other day, a young woman came into club with her personal statement for college and asked for my opinion on it. I went through it with her and suggested a couple of possible improvements. She totally ignored my suggestions, which was somewhat frustrating.

That frustration is a familiar feeling for the Urban Hope team. It's not unusual for young people to ignore our advice. We often find ourselves going over old ground – processing with young people the consequences of doing things that we told them weren't a good idea, or of not doing things we’ve recommended.

But however frustrated we get, we know that we are not here to tell young people what to do. Trying things out, making mistakes and learning from them is an important part of growing up. Empowerment, and voluntary participation are two of the core principles of youth work.

. . . read more

 

We’re very proud of the achievements of all the young people who come to Urban Hope and of the dedication of volunteers who help us to run sessions each week, offer mentoring support to young people and lend a hand at events. But it’s especially gratifying when those efforts get wider recognition, which is what happened this week when Gemma Bell and Keeley Tims were given awards at the Mayor’s Civic Awards Ceremony, an event celebrating the unsung heroes of the borough. Here’s why they were singled out:

Gemma Bell – It’s no exaggeration to say that Urban Hope has been very reliant on Gemma’s support over the past 15 years. During that time, she has volunteered at countless evening drop-ins, mentored numerous young people, helped to organise dozens of events and raised £17,000 to support our work.

Keeley Timms – At only 16, Keeley has already shown a real commitment to her local community. She was nominated her for the Ben Kinsella award by her headteacher, who was struck by her consistently positive influence on younger students and her support of the more vulnerable among them. On top of regular volunteering at Urban Hope, Keeley was keen to volunteer at a local primary school – and when they initially turned her down due to lack of experience, she bombarded them with emails until they said yes. We’re looking forward to seeing where that fierce determination takes her in the months and years to come.

A big, fat Urban Hope thank you to both these wonderful women for all that they do.

link to this story

 

Ben writes…

When I was 16 I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with myself. But I knew I didn’t want to go to school and that I wanted to earn some money. So, I got a job working in the local cemetery cutting grass and digging graves. It was easy to find work because my Dad knew a bloke who knew a bloke…

A year or so later I got another job working for a glazing firm. Again, my dad called his mate who owned the firm and soon afterwards I got offered a job. It was the same for my brother. This is a small insight into the relative privilege of my upbringing; I had parents who were able to provide me with opportunities through their social network.

Many of us in employment have been given a ‘leg up’ by someone in our network, and we’ve sought to replicate this model of using social capital to access work here at Urban Hope. We have been able to provide opportunities for many young people via our extended network of friends, family, volunteers and their contacts. It’s so rewarding to see young people take advantage of those opportunities to use and develop their skills and gifts in what can seem to be impenetrable professions or workplaces.

But, despite all the benefits, this approach sits uncomfortably with me. It's only necessary because there is a systematic narrowing of opportunity for many of the young people we know here in Islington. Their chances of finding employment are limited precisely because they don’t have a dad who can talk to a couple of people and help them find a job, perhaps because he has struggled to find one himself. So I’m torn between the idealism of seeking structural change and the pragmatic approach that we currently use to fight the corner of the young people we know and help them get jobs.

link to this story

 

What makes you angry?

3 November 2014

Joy writes…

Who do you look up to?

What do you want to be remembered for?

Over the last few years we’ve been working on creating conversation nudges at Urban Hope. These are little prompts to get young people thinking and talking to each other and to the adults at each session.

One of the ways we do this is by writing a quote, a question or a thought on our blackboard and inviting young people to respond. Sometimes in response we get beautiful pieces of art, sometimes we get rude words and sometimes we get responses to the questions asked:

. . . read more

 

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Spicy Moroccan Chicken with Couscous and chickpeas. A really simple one this week where everything is cooked together, saves on washing up!

link to this story

 

These stunning pizzas weren't cooked in our normal Thursday Cooking session but with our Boy's Club. The one on the left even has a stuffed crust! They tasted as good as they look.

link to this story

 

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we took a risk and cooked a vegetarian dish. Halloumi, Roast Vegetables, Tomatoes and Chickpeas and Couscous. We were all surprised that there wasn't too many complainants although that could have been because it was delicious!

link to this story

 

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we cooked a Spaghetti Bolognese. This was a firm favourite with the young people but everyone had their own opinion on how it should be had, what should be included and what needed to be left out.

link to this story

 

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week as it's Easter we cooked a roast lamb dinner. With roast potatoes and gravy and all the trimmings this was a really special meal that brought the group together

link to this story

 

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made the italian classic Lasagne. This was a real hit with people going back for seconds as well as scraping out the tin!

link to this story

 

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Honey and Lemon Chicken with Hassleback potatoes. The young people were really impressed with the results of the potatoes, although the aubergine sauce didn't go down too well. We soldier on...

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Piri Piri Chicken with Wedges and Coleslaw. Everyone was really happy with how this turned out, especially as there was plenty of chicken to go about.

link to this story

 

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Roast Chicken Pesto Pasta. The young people enjoy shredding up two roast chickens for the meal. One of our serial chicken shop frequenters even put off her visit in order to eat with us.

link to this story

 

Chicken Shop Wars, Round 5

27 February 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we cooked the classic Chilli Con Carne. Whilst many people tried it there was a general consensus that there wasn't enough chilli! Some people had their first taste of avocado; there were mixed opinions. As ever we strive to bring new experiences to the young people, using food and other means.

link to this story

 

Chicken Shop Wars, Round 4

20 February 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

With the great success of the chicken curry a few weeks ago we branched out and cooked a Lamb Pilau. This again went down well with some enjoying the change from chicken. However, even when the young people know what we will be cooking they still visit the Chicken Shop (and have curry later). Our mission continues...

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 3

14 February 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we cooked a North African Chicken Tagine with Couscous. It was another thumbs up, especially for the honeyed crispy skin and the smokey harissa sauce.

link to this story

 

Chicken Shop Wars, Round 2

30 January 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week a spicy Keralan Curry does battle with the Chicken Shop.

The curry went down very well, as it always does. It brought to the table some of those who don't normally eat with us, which was great. We even had a bowl of chopped chillies for those who want to increase the heat. A few brave people tried them raw; must remember to have yogurt on standby next time!

link to this story

 

Chicken Shop Wars, Round 1

23 January 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week Braised Beef and Garlic Pie, with optional Haggis!

The haggis didn't down too well especially after seeing the ingredients, but the pie was a winner.

link to this story

 

We need something good.

27 November 2013

At Urban Hope HQ we're listening to this cover of Maverick Saber's I Need by spoken word artist George the poet.

We think it's a challenging reflection on the impact of the music industry on youth culture as well as beautiful piece of music.

link to this story

 

Stigma, Social isolation and Shame... these are issues faced by many Urban Hopefuls because they have a parent in prison. Please join us insigning the e-petition to raise awareness on the importance of maintaining contact via regular prison visits and phone calls.

Not my Crime, Still my Sentence

Nearly 1 million children in Europe have a parent in prison.

25% of these kids are at high risk for mental health illness, a statistic recently discovered during the COPING Project.

The sentence of their parent becomes a sentence they also serve as a result of their vulnerability to stigma, social isolation and shame.

Research has proven that maintaining regular quality contact with the imprisoned parent improves the self-esteem and well-being of this group of children – but throughout Europe there are few support systems in place to promote this contact for the benefit of the child.

. . . read more

 

Martin writes...
What are we cooking tonight? Is the question that starts off Thursday night drop in. Although cooking on a Thursday night has been happening for a while now at Urban Hope we are currently trying something new.

Instead of carrying on with what we normally do and letting people eat and rush back to what they were doing before. Every other week now we call everyone together to sit down and eat together around one large table.

As we gathered everyone to eat some people were sitting and eagerly waiting for their food to be served while others were standing looking confused and asking what we were doing it for. As the food was served up and more people were sitting, eating and chatting together, those who first looked confused and nervous relaxed and soon everyone was focussed on eating with the group. Without any prompting someone says “So how was your day?” and the conversations flow from there.

There is something about sitting and eating together that can be more special than just standing, eating and moving on. What we are trying to do is to foster time to be together in an intentional way rather than just sharing the same space but not necessarily connecting with each other. We are creating an opportunity to share together in a way that can be easier to do while eating together. It can make it easier for people to let their guards down a bit and be willing to share and interact with others compared with if they were just playing Fifa 13.

Throughout Urban Hope there is a sense of family, which is added to by the action of sitting and eating around a table together. For some young people it might not be something that is done with their family and so we are creating a place where they can be safe to share with others in the context of a family meal.

. . . read more

 

How can you use a pool table to talk about sexual health, coffee cup rings to explore journey, or use conversation to help young people gain a new perspective?

These were some of the questions we explored last week as part of a training day we ran for youth workers. We often find that session plans don’t work out or we get stuck when it comes to helping a young person move on.In order to learn how to think on our feet, and work creatively with young people we invited our friend Jonny Baker to lead a day for the Urban Hope team and 34 other youth workers from as far as Manchester and Hastings.

The day was wonderfully interactive with exercises in newspaper editing and improvisational drama (We never knew that Byron was hiding his acting talents from us).

The youth work world is full of essential inside the box training such as safeguarding and best practice. We are seeking to add value by offering training and ‘think space’ events on themes that aren’t usually covered

… a little bit of innovative, outside the box thinking to equip, excite and invigorate youth work … that’s what we’re trying to do.

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Things to do

21 October 2012

For young people in Islington ....

click here for a downloadable document with information about:

  • adventure playgrounds
  • after school clubs
  • breakfast clubs
  • fun and youth activities
  • holiday schemes
  • homework help
  • services for disabled children and young people
  • help with costs

link to this story

 

Ben writes ...

This week we will be celebrating the first ‘International Day of the Girl Child'.

Here at Urban Hope we have made every effort to welcome and support girls. We have tailored our programmes, activities and organisational culture to address the needs of local girls.

It’s often the boys who grab the headlines … with stories ofviolence, drugs and robbery whilst the stories of girls are often invisible and go unreported. This results in support services and youth provision being aimed at the needs of boys which is reflected in the low numbers of girls involved in youth projects both here in Islington throughout the UK.

. . . read more

 

Growing Pains

1 October 2012

Chrissy writes...

Sometimes we seek growth - in all sorts of ways, for example, by enrolling in further education. Other times we go through growth never quite understanding what is going on: as a small child my parents made me eat vegetables to ‘make me grow strong’ and I remember this being particularly painful!

But why? Why is it that growth is sometimes uncomfortable or painful? I wonder if it’s because without it we wouldn’t be able to rejoice as much in the result. 

Over the past 10 years it has filled me with excitement to consider that each day, each conversation or new insight means our lives are now different because we have lived a moment that we hadn’t before. Sometimes these moments do cause discomfort as what we had been before learns to adjust, whether we want to or not, and then we find that we have grown in many different directions. Speaking horticulturally, we are able to put down roots, pushing through the ground past rocks , around obstacles searching for nutrients and stability: and we can reach ever higher, stretching ourselves, searching for light, warmth and a chance to bloom. We can expand outwards, negotiating space, increasing our capacity and becoming ever more fruitful.

. . . read more

 

Surprise

28 August 2012

Joy writes...

A few weeks ago during our Friday evening girls club, (after a half an hour set up and at least double that planning!) we found ourselves throwing an impromptu birthday party.

One of the girls was turning 13, and her friends had decided to surprise her with a cake from the local bakery (With her name on!) balloons, presents and all kinds of yummy treats.

When they arrived laden with stuff, I have to admit that there was a part of me that was a little annoyed that our slickly planned art session had to be abandoned but actually it was so great to see young people taking ownership of the session, choosing to have a party in a space that they saw as theirs, without adult intervention.

. . . read more

 

The Izzy Cup Experience

28 August 2012

Last week our boys club took part in the Izzycup, which is a football tournament where teams from all the youth clubs in Islington are invited.

Byron writes

‘Disaster hit us as we began, we had underestimated our opponents. Presuming victory because of their height we said, “they don’t stand a chance!”

As our opponents made contact with the ball the score said other wise- repeatedly! Our hope began to be tested the once confident team began to waver.

. . . read more

 

Islington's Family Information Service has published details of activities taking place over the school holidays .... link here

Here at Urban Hope, we will continue to run all our regular activities + we will be doing lots of extra stuff for children and young people who find themselves with nothing to do



. . . read more

 

Weekend Away

27 March 2012

At Urban Hope we try to give young people the opportunity to experience new things. One of the ways we do this is by organising activity weekends in the country. Last weekend we took 8 young women and one amazing young leader to Hindleap Warren in East Grinsted, to celebrate and end the Beautiful course

Over the last weekend we saw young women overcome challenges, face fears, persevere until they achieved and have loads of fun. Again and again I am amazed at the growth of confidence and self-belief that can occur in such a short amount of time. As well as the change of perspective spending time in another setting can offer. At the end of every residential we do, I need to sleep for hours before I can function at a reasonable level again but it has never been not totally worth it- and every young person we take away says the same.

link to this story

 

Fran writes…

We have a lot of young people who come into Urban Hope each week who are affected by the places they live. We hear about the high-rise, box-size, community-killing environments that so many young people grow up in, in our city.

I recently watched a 2-part program on 4OD, which was really interesting.  The program followed Kevin McCloud exploring Dharavi, India’s most densely populated slum. Dharavi is described as “one of the most extreme urban environments on earth” but this place could show us how our western city planners and architects have gone so wrong.


. . . read more

 

A time for love

15 February 2012

Ben writes ....


I wanted to share this song with you ... it's one of a number of songs which keeps me focused here at Urban Hope. I've often been frustrated when attending meetings discussing the latest local youth strategy or policy, there often seems to be lots and lots of debate, rules and restrictions .... perhaps these words can call us back to remember what's at the heart of all our work with young people.


"A Time To Love"
(feat. India.Arie)

We have time for racism
We have time for criticism
Held bondage by our ism's
When will there be a time to love

We make time to debate religion
Passing bills and building prisons
For building fortunes and passing judgements
When will there be a time to love

At this point in history we have a choice to make
To either walk a path of love
Or be crippled by our hate

We have time to cause pollution
We have time to cause confusion
All wrapped up in our own illusions
When will there be a time to love

We make time to conquer nations
Time for oil exploration
Hatred, violence and terrorism
When will there be a time to love

At this moment in time
We have a choice to make
Father God is watching
While we cause mother earth so much pain
It's such a shame

Not enough money for
The young, the old and the poor
But for war there is always more
When will there be a time to love

We make time for paying taxes
Or paying bills and buying status
But we will pay the consequences
If we don't make the time to love

Now's the time to pay attention
Yes now is the time... to love...
A time love... Love...
A time to Love
Please, please won't you tell me
When will there be a time to love...

link to this story

 

 Ben writes ….

Last October Caitlin Moran wrote a superb article reflecting on the experience of living in poverty. We blogged her article as we thought it reflected the experience of so many people we know here in Islington. Caitlin wrote another experiential reflection published in the Sunday Times yesterday, which I hope, will help people to engage with some of the issues faced by those who depend of state benefits.

Cutting to the heart of the welfare state

‘What’s it like, being raised on benefits? Well, mainly, you’re scared’

Unlike most of the people voting on the proposed £18 billion cuts to the benefits budget – as it shuttles between the Commons and the Lords – I was raised on benefits. Disability benefits, collected every Tuesday from the post office, in a shuffling queue of limpers, coughers and people with their coat hoods pulled right up.

Perhaps if you drove past the queue, you would presume the ones hiding their faces were doing it because they were on the fiddle – “playing the books”. In reality, they were the scared kids with mental problems on Incapacity Benefit,whom you’d see trying three times, and ultimately failing, to get on a bus.Good luck with getting them on a Restart scheme, you would think. Good luck with trying to funnel that terror into a cardboard hat in McDonald’s.

. . . read more

 

For over 7 years now Urban Hopefuls have been creating short films about them, and their reactions to the world around them. Some which have been part of the 'London Children's Film Festival'. We have now created an UrbanHopefuls channel on YouTube, which is a great platform to celebrate the young peoples voice's and talent's. it will be a channel for their past cinematic achievements and hopefully many more to come in the future.

link to this story

 

Happy New Year

5 January 2012

Happy New Year

We're back from our Christmas break and are loving reconnecting with all the Urban Hopefuls. 


I wanted to share an email that we were sent by a 17 year old over the Christmas period which will stay with me throughout 2012 and will serve as a reminder of what we're about.

Dear UH,
Thank you for your presence.
Thank you for your presence, in absence of food,
Thank you for your presence, in absence of shelter.
Thank you for your support, in absence of a hand to hold,
Thank you for your brains, when I felt brain dead.
Thank you for being my megaphone, in absence of a voice,
Thank you for being my specs, when life seemed a little blurry.
Thank you for being my family, In absence of a mother, father.
Thank you. Its been a great year.

. . . read more

 

The word on the street

If churches wish to help young people escape the gang culture, they need commitment and co-ordinated approach, says Julia McGuinness


TELEVISION images of rioters on the streets of English cities this summer were quickly succeeded by David Cameron’s declaration of a “social fightback” in the form of an “all-out war on gangs and gang culture”.

The emerging picture of the unrest challenged initial assumptions that the rioters were essentially black teenagers in organised gangs. Never the less, August’s disturbing events again raised the issue of urban deprivation, and put gang culture, in particular, firmly back on the agenda 2008,Churches Together in England (CTE) published the report Who is my Neighbour? A Church response to social disorder linked to gangs, drugs, guns and knives. One thousand copies were released, and its findings were presented at key cities around the country.

The report highlighted the concern felt by churches about issues of violence and social disorder, and their desire to form partnerships with others to help to address them, but, also, awareness of their own lack of training and expertise.

. . . read more

 

The Poverty Trap by Caitlin Moran
The Times 15/10/11

‘There is one massive difference between being rich and being poor, and it is this: when you are poor, you feel heavy’

We’ve recently heard a lot about the gulf between the rich and the poor – the difference between those with money, and those without.

Well, I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. When I was poor, I knew I was poor because we lived on benefits, slept on mattresses on the floor, and would share a Mars Bar between ten for pudding.

Now I’m rich, I know I’m rich because I’ve got underfloor heating and could afford to eat out at Pizza Express up to three times a week, if I so chose. I’m basically living the life of a billionaire. I am loaded.

. . . read more

 
 

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