Wednesday, 10 August 2011


I know that this blog is mainly supposed to be about the arts, but in view of the scenes across the country in the last few days, including Manchester last night, I feel like I want to write something so indulge me blog readers (if there is anyone other than me!)

I, like many people, sat horrified looking at pictures of what was going on in 'my city' last night, and the thing that shocked me the most I have to say is the age of a lot of the people involved. Young kids out on a wrecking spree, smashing property, stealing - it was all very upsetting and scary. I don't know what the answers are for these problems, its certainly not simple, and I'm not informed enough to even be able to suggest where we start.

But the one thing that I think is really getting lost in all this, scary as it seems, is that the trouble was caused by the minority and it really is not typical of young people, or of the citizens of Manchester. This is a city I am still proud to call home and it has so much going for it.

Even this year I have seen that first hand so many times. I volunteered for the Manchester Shine nighttime marathon in May, lots of great volunteers, many of them young people, gave up their time to make that happen. And 10K people walked 13 or 26 miles across Manchester at night to raise funds for Cancer Research, many of whom had personal experience of the way cancer touches lives, it was an awe inspiring night.

In June I helped out with the preparations for the Manchester Day Parade, where community groups were working with artists to realise their own ideas for entries in the parade. I had the pleasure of working with three different community groups over the two weekends, many of them young people, who were funny, creative, and taking a real pride in helping to make their ideas become a reality. I even joined in with one group on the parade which was great fun. I was able to talk to them and their leaders about the type of activities they get involved in, and it was brilliant to see the way they were all supporting each other. And witnessing the people of Manchester come out to support the event in their thousands was awe inspiring.

In July I worked on the Manchester International Festival and many of the volunteers I worked with were young people - who were hard working, articulate, great to be around and talented. I also got the chance to chat with many kids and families who visited the two shows I worked on, who came from all walks of life, and it was a pleasure to meet them and talk with them.

I also know there are countless brilliant things being done for and by young people in our area every day. Some of the ones I know about through my arts connections are work that the Royal Exchange are doing with young people as part of The Truth About Youth programme ; The Norfox young actors company at the Library Theatre Company, who are just about to put on their latest production in Manchester, and The ReClaim project, a leadership and mentoring project based in Manchester, one of whose participants was on the news tonight being asked for her views on the riots and was really impressive. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I suppose what I am trying to say is just because we see all this shocking stuff on the TV, we need to keep in mind that these acts were undertaken by a very small minority and we shouldn't write off all the brilliant things that 'my' city and its people have to offer, which far outweigh the depressing minority.

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