Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/682/12560
Vital services "dying" because of cuts
South London youth worker, Louie Silcott, spoke to the Socialist
What do you do?
I work with young people who are disenfranchised and have talent.
We work with schools and social services to work out what we're going to do with them over a month or six weeks regarding arts development.
We normally put together a demo or a performance that we can present to a record company or just to keep them busy, to give them a bit of self-esteem and do something that will put them in a good light, probably for the first time in their lives.
Obviously what we can do is all down to funding and location. Generally we work with teenagers and then after 19 most of them become volunteers for us and help us deliver the whole thing again.
What does what you do and youth services more generally offer young people?
There are a lot of groups like mine that offer services for young people who generally can't access mainstream youth services. We do specialist stuff for kids who really need to learn stuff away from the classroom.
What will be the effect of funding cuts to groups like yours?
We can't survive without that funding. A lot of these groups are dying because of the funding cuts. The result is what we've been seeing over the past week or so!
We've been talking about this to the government for a long time - saying that this is what was coming and it's only going to get worse.
It's important for the government to take on board what they saw last weekend and not react by locking all these kids up - of course you need a deterrent but really it should have been preventative in the first place.
What have the young people and youth workers you work with been saying about the riots?
Everyone's frustrated. A lot of young people seem quite shocked by what happened and how far it went. They felt very unsafe.
But another group of young people knew it was going to happen. They say "what's everyone surprised by? There's chaos on our estates and all we've done is taken it to the town centres and now because it's in the town centres everyone's taking notice."
What do you think the reaction of the government should be?
Give the funding back to the people on the ground who know what they're talking about. The reaction of the government right now is showing us and showing young people that politicians don't know what they're talking about.
This isn't just now, every time there's a violent incident with young people and me and my colleagues talk to the government in any form, they clearly know we know what we're doing but they still won't give the funding to us.
We watch the funding go somewhere else - like putting extra police on the streets for a few months - then we'll just be back to square one again.
In The Socialist 17 August 2011:
The street eruptions and aftermath
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Comments and reviews