A Ticking Time Bomb

With no room to express themselves, are the youth using youth violence as a frantic release?

“Back a dog into a corner and its gonna bite”. A common saying, depicting the ferocious response of a being suppressed, oppressed and frustrated.

Expression, a term used quite frequently, is a need to release, to showcase one’s true self and feelings residing deep inside. Being able to express yourself is a key phase of growth, and is a means of navigating through self discovery. Whether it be through what we wear, what music we listen to or even what we decide to like or dislike, it is clear that giving room for young people to express themselves is a key requirement in their upbringing.

But what happens when there is no room? What happens when overpopulated space from deprivation gives no provision to young people to express themselves. If we look at the greatest forms of destruction such as earthquakes, bombs, volcanoes, they have one thing in common, the build up of pressure. Pressure built up into a small space has catastrophic effects, its explosive nature having the ability to cause damage that stretches out for miles. Likewise, in young people without the space to explore themselves, it is clear that there is a build of frustration that spills over into an explosive response. Statistics have shown that in the last year alone, boroughs such as Southwark, Newham and Croydon have seen a total of 110,935 violent crimes, and being placed in “The top 10 dangerous boroughs” in London by Churchill Security, statistics also point to the state of social and economical deprivation within the corresponding areas, cementing the link between deprived areas and crime. Overpopulated and tightly squeezed areas are showing high rates of gentrification but most importantly overpopulated houses, families of 8 having to make do with 2 bedroom apartments, just how much space and freedom do these young people have growing up?

With no space at home, young people feel forced on to the streets just to attain a glimpse of freedom and space. Bollo Brook youth center in South Acton acted as a space for young people in such a deprived area to explore themselves. Leon, an 18-year-old beneficiary of the youth center saw himself growing up in a deprived area in West London and grew up seeing people stabbed. When asked by the Guardian what the root of this youth crisis was he highlighted; school exclusions, poor education, inflammatory social media, lack of decent jobs and youth service cuts. “Overcrowding is from poverty. You don’t have enough money to get a bigger house. It’s not that violence is there for the sake of violence. People are being violent because they are pushed there.” Space is important, and with the rise in youth budget cuts we are seeing less provision for young people people to fully express themselves, with their own homes carrying so much burdens, be it domestically or financially the youth are searching for a release mechanism to relieve such pressures, to find the space to find themselves. And this is why, now more than ever, youth provision is needed, “a space to call my own”, “a home away from home”.

BIGKID believe in giving young people a space to find their difference, a space where we can help navigate them through their own self discovery and a place where they can be themselves. Working with over 100 young people per week, one of our aims is to make our youth club a safe haven where our young people can be themselves, so much so one of the mothers of one of our beneficiaries stated “I’m happy he has a place to come out of his shell. He is very quiet when he is at home and around other people.”

We aim to make BIGKID a “hub of experience” a place where young people can experience themselves and take part in opportunities they wouldn’t normally get to, and creating a place the young people can call their own. Our residential trips have helped us achieve this. This week we have taken 10 of our young people to the Suffolk coast to experience not just sailing and horse riding and swimming in the sea and camping but ultimately SPACE. Space to run, climb, capsize, fall off, make mistakes solidify friendships and learn that there is a whole world outside their estate, outside Lambeth and outside London.

Our social action projects at our youth club have seen our young people come together to discuss social matters they feel their generation struggle with and have come together to plan and create a movie that helps depicts such issues. It’s amazing the things young people can do and discuss when given the chance to express their thoughts and talents.

BIGKID Foundation aims to equip young people at risk of social exclusion and youth violence, to take control of their lives, find, develop and act on their own potential.

We live to promote purpose, and help our young people navigate through their self discovery. Like our slogan says “Behind every kid is something big”, lets give them the room to show us just how big it is.

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