THE BLOG

London's Burning

01/08/2014 11:24 BST | Updated 30/09/2014 10:59 BST

2014-08-01-LONDPONSBURNINGHUFF.jpg

London's Burning is just a nursery rhyme, right?

Maybe not.

August 4th is the third anniversary of when Mark Duggan was shot on Ferry Lane, East London, sparking an angry but peaceful protest that then grew into the London Riots. The looting and violence took over the news agenda, and images of burning shops and buildings were everywhere.

The government and police clamped down hard, sending out a strong message that looting and anarchy was unacceptable. The riots became just a bad memory.

But in some ways London is still burning today.

Austerity measures have disproportionately cut youth services to crazy levels - last year Kensington and Chelsea reduced its youth services budget by 78% - that's £5.1m - while Tower Hamlets has cut spending by £9.4m, making up a 65% reduction. The effects of those cuts are kicking in now, with centres closing and support measures being destroyed.

Young people - who vote less and get to work less in this brutal employment market - are having their places to go and things to do taken away. They are feeling invisible and alienated.

So what's happening? They're getting bored and scared. And inevitably they're getting into trouble.

They are invisible to most Londoners except when they explode with anger. Often unsupported at home and now unsupported by society, they increasingly find themselves having nowhere to go, not having enough food, being targeted by the police and vilified in the media.

These kids just don't feel like they don't belong to the same society as everyone else.

Now it's not just a London problem. Outside the capital it's also terrible - according to the BBC, Tameside, Stoke-on-Trent and Warrington all cut spending by more than 70%.

We're just shutting doors in the faces of kids who are the mathematical future of our society. They just are.

So what to do? Well, that's a tricky one. No one is cutting services out of malice or as part of an evil plan - austerity has bitten everywhere. But perhaps it's time to reconsider how we are dealing with marginalised young people. Especially as new research from Kids Company and University College London suggests there are way more vulnerable young people than we think.

And if you're not convinced by this article - check out the music video I shot with the kids of Kids Company in London. It's a rap version of London's Burning, shot on the streets of Brixton. When I filmed it, people gathered around us, cheering. It was amazing.

Because it's a big issue that needs intervention.

Kids Company are working tirelessly to help the invisible children be seen and be supported. But they can't do it by themselves. For London - and other cities in the UK - to truly stop burning, we need to show more care and more support to our young people.

We need to pour on water!

The main video - with some swearing - is here:

And there'a a clean (radio edit) version also available here: