The creation of a charity, from the very beginning.
Dieting, for me, is a weekly struggle. However, I don’t mean a struggle in the sense of, ‘do I get changed and go to the gym or stay in and plunge my face in to a chocolate gateaux whilst I sit in front of the TV yelling at David Dimbleby on Question Time to let people FINISH THEIR POINTS?!’ No. Every week, me, myself and I go through a rigorous debate about why it is I want to lose weight. Some weeks I go to the gym safe in the knowledge that if I lose half my body weight I will look exactly like Cheryl Cole. She has dimples… I have dimples… She has brown hair… I have brown hair. It’s a no brainer. However, on the other weeks the Feminist Warrior in me wins and tells me that I don’t need to conform to the unrealistic social expectations that exist; beauty comes from within and as long as I’m healthy, I need to stop obsessing about being three stone.
This week I have been in a Cheryl Cole-esque mood. Yesterday, I was in the gym and had been cycling for 15 minutes and was beginning to feel the burn (I think we can safely establish I’m not an athlete in any sense of the word) which usually stirs up the Feminist Warrior in me. I was on the brink of giving up when BBC News cut to Theresa May unveiling the Coalition’s new ‘Anti-gang strategy’.
After both sides of the Commons had waffled on about the cost of everything (an issue which was evidently more important than the content of the strategy), Theresa discussed the new plan of action and some of the motivation behind it. The strategy introduces increased police powers including monitoring of gangs and new bail conditions to keep individuals in their homes. There is also talk of a new discretionary life sentence to those convicted of supplying guns. I can’t envisage any of these tactics being successful. Theresa went on to explain some more before returning to the important issue of money, however it was apparent in the first five mines that the Coalition have missed the point with this one.
Tackling gang violence needs urgent attention. The sexual exploitation of children and young people often occurs within gangs of men and women who see young people as a means of making money. These gangs can be formed through familial ties, where younger members entice vulnerable friends in to the cycle of exploitation by introducing them to older relatives; often a cousin with a flash car and money to spend. However, this is just one model of a gang. There needs to be an understanding of what exactly a ‘gang’ is and an acknowledgement that there are different gangs serving different purposes.
Gangs can be made up of both adults and children. What experts (youth workers, community workers) do know is that gangs are often bred out of poverty, unemployment, damaged communities and anger. Young children are able to be drawn in because it’s a way of getting status; a way of achieving something when there are few other options available. At what point does the government expect disadvantaged teenagers to sit back and accept the fact that they’ve been brought up in poverty, which subsequently impacted on their education, which subsequently means they will not be able to get a job at all in this economic climate, so will have to continue to live in poverty, probably for the rest of their lives? Is the government really expecting some kids to sit back and accept the fact that society considers them a nobody? If I couldn’t achieve academically or financially then I’d sure as hell go out and find something that would give me a sense of self-worth. And that is what gangs do for people.
This whole strategy seems too reactionary and places too much emphasis on punishment. It has sprung from the rioting that happened this summer whilst the government has simultaneously confirmed and denied that gangs were a prominent part of the riots. Frankly, this government does not have a throrough enough understanding of why the riots started- how could they? They come from a different Britain to the one many of us live and work in.
The approach to tackling gang problems has to be a thorough, detailed and well-considered one. The reasoning behind the strategy seems confused. Is it to prevent further rioting; is it to prevent sexual exploitation, or is it just another symbolic plaster for ‘Broken Britain’?
Another issue is the constant reinforcement of men as perpetrators of violence and women as victims. We need to wake up and realize that exploitation is not gender-specific and that boys and men can be victims too. Sorry lads, maybe next year, ey?
So my understanding of the new ‘Anti-Gangs strategy’ is that it has to be quick, it has to be cheap but it certainly won’t be effective.
This whole thing has just left me angry and disappointed. But on a positive note, before I knew it I had done 50 minutes on the bike machine and lost a lovely 400 calories. Cheers Theresa.