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7/7 and beyond: is anybody listening?

Young people are looking for somebody who will listen: this has been the consistent message from all the conferences. They need ‘safe places’ in which they can express themselves freely and be heard. They feel that ‘the government only listens to drastic actions’ - hence the inevitability of another 7/7. They take note of foreign policy and its impact and believe the media are largely to blame for stereotypes and sensational reporting. They have plenty of advice too for religious leaders and the ‘elders’ in their different communities. Some young people feel they are being ‘pushed out of society because we don’t fit in’. The resulting feelings of isolation and anger can fuel extremism.

Some of their feedback has also been captured in a DVD discussion resource that came out of the earlier conferences in London and Reading. ‘Friends, Strangers, Citizens? Life in Britain post 7/7’ features community leaders, young people and people on the street giving their views on issues such as the threat of terror, the role of religion, multi-culturalism and freedom of speech. It includes worksheets and guidelines for discussion, and has been taken up by various schools, local councils and community groups. Several have commented on its value and the need to make it available as widely as possible. Click here to view a sample clip

The January 24 conference in London responded by proposing ways forward, based on:

  • a national strategy to provide opportunities for people to come together locally for regular open discussion and interaction, using the many existing structures and activities, but also enabling young people to engage with key decision makers.
  • a systematic approach.
  • use of key resources, including the DVD Friends, Strangers, Citizens? Life in Britain post 7/7
  • a network of mentors, coaches and community role models, to help link people together.

We have been in discussion with a number of individuals and organisations to find ways to maintain and develop the initiative. Around 12 organisations who took part in the conferences expressed their support and commitment to continue to be involved. These include Carl Wonfor of the National Community Tension Team of ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers), who is planning a series of 9 regional conferences for young people, in partnership with the UK Youth Parliament. We are also in touch with Walk Talk, a peace march from Leeds to London. Other discussions are still on-going.

A 6 minute summary of the conferences, including interviews with resource people and participants, is available on DVD and gives a good idea of their concerns and the overall message.

We maintain links with the schools and community organisations in Birmingham and Leeds, to keep them in touch with similar initiatives and opportunities.

We are grateful for the support of CDF in this initiative, through a grant from the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund.

The way ahead: models for the future


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