100 Youths In ‘Hoodies’ To Campaign At Parliament

One hundred teenagers wearing “hoodies” will demonstrate outside Parliament as part of a campaign calling for Government action to help young people stay out of trouble.

The teenagers will present Chancellor Gordon Brown with the interim findings of a national inquiry revealing high levels of concern among young people about their personal safety and the lack of safe places for them to take part in worthwhile activities.

The Make Space Youth Review for charity 4Children calls for a national programme of new-style youth centres in every community across England as well as “young mayors” to give teenagers a voice in their area. And it calls for a new network of Youth Champions to inspire young people in the community, as well as mobile intervention teams to offer teenage offenders in deprived areas help, support and positive alternatives.

Meanwhile, parents should be given the right to request flexible working arrangements to enable them to spend more time with their teenage children, found the review, chaired by broadcaster and former MP Oona King.

Ms King said: “The recent spate of gun crimes against young people sends an urgent message that something must be done before we lose a generation of teenagers. Young people are getting a bad deal from society. This limits their opportunities, creates alienation and leads to violence and disorder. Our consultation shows that young people are fearful for their own safety, they have few safe places to go and very little to do every day.

“We invest on average 17p per young person per day on youth services. It’s time we decided, as a society, whether we support teenagers or ignore them. We have to build young people back into communities. “Not doing this costs us billions dealing with the consequences of anti-social behaviour, crime and violence and even more in the emotional consequences of a dispossessed generation of teenagers.”

The Youth Review questioned 7,000 teenagers at roadshows around England over the past six months. It found that 34% of those who took part were concerned about bullying and 26% about becoming the victims of crime. More than two thirds of 11 to 16-year-olds said they had witnessed at least one instance of anti-social behaviour over the past year.

Some 69% complained that there is not enough to do in their area, with 46% saying they regularly spent time “hanging around”, and 68% said teenagers were more likely to cause disruption when bored. Among those questioned, 34% regularly returned from school to an empty home.

The survey indicated a desire among young people for greater support from adults in their communities. The £3 million Make Space campaign aims to create a network of 3,000 clubs for young people aged 11-16 by 2010. It will make its full report in July.