Hello world!

The flyer above is for a film that I have written- I started writing in prison- if I can do this so can you!- Contact us now- we’ll help to show you the way!


Dear (insert your MP’s name here),

I am writing in regard to the Parliament meeting on Thursday. I would greatly appreciate that you raise the following concerns on Thursday to Parliament.

I am of course writing in response to the riots. There has been plenty of words describing the people rioting and looting as ‘mindless’, ‘thugs’ and ‘simple criminals’. I completely comprehend the criminal damage done as criminal behaviour but we need to think more deeply about the reasons these people are rioting.
There has been a lot of unrest, disaffection and anger in people from deprived areas and particularly young people. This has been growing over the last quarter of a century. A lot of people receive poor education, live in poor conditions and are generally short of money and other more enjoyable aspects of life (for example, some young people living in Peckham having never visited Central London). They are evermore told to have more stuff, more things, but haven’t the means to obtain it legitimately. Furthermore, they experience marginalisation, demonization and hatred at the hands of stereotypes such as ‘chav’, ‘black’, ‘scum’ etc. Hate breeds hate. These people are angry because they have been part of an ‘underclass’ for so long, divorced from the more mainstream society that flourishes in the city of London and in more affluent areas, and amongst the more elite levels of society. Young people particularly feel they have no prospects and no engagement in their community.

Again, I do not condone their behaviour, but can’t we see that the rioting and looting is a manifestation of the anger for and disengagement with society and the community?

What should we do to remedy this? We must speak to the rioters. We should ask, on every media platform, that the people rioting or that have rioted, step forward, speak to the police and the community members without facing arrest, to engage in dialogue about how we can move forward together. Underneath this needs to be a nationwide understanding that although this is criminal behaviour, the people and young people involved are not sheer criminals and thugs. We need to break down the barriers between government, authorities, the ‘law abiding’ citizens and the rioters/looters so we can all move forward together. This will only start with the government endeavouring to directly engage with the rioters in a non-threatening way and accept that something has gone wrong and that we ALL have a responsibility. This approach and attitude has to be widely publicised. Please raise questions as to what the Prime Minister suggests for making sure these marginalised and demonised voices will be communicated with.

Here are a few quotations from societal figureheads with far more influence than myself:

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone tells the BBC that the anger is fuelled by disengagement. “There is a level of despair out there. We have got to have a government that speaks to the whole community, not just the layer at the top.” He also says the government has failed to realise the level of discontent among young people who are facing a “bleak” future. (BBC News)

“Many of the people involved are likely to have been from low-income, high-unemployment estates, and many, if not most, do not have much of a legitimate future,” said criminologist and youth culture expert Professor John Pitts. Unlike most people, some of those looting had no stake in conformity, he said. “Those things that normally constrain people are not there. Much of this was opportunism but in the middle of it there is a social question to be asked about young people with nothing to lose.” (Guardian)

A young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:
“Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?”
“Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.” (Penny Red blog)

“No excuse but a recipe for riot; cut EMA, cut benefit, cut youth service, cut holiday schemes, cut police, cut estate maintenance, speed inequality” (Polly Toynbee)

The violence on the streets is being dismissed as ‘pure criminality,’ as the work of a ‘violent minority’, as ‘opportunism.’ This is madly insufficient. It is no way to talk about viral civil unrest. Angry young people with nothing to do and little to lose are turning on their own communities, and they cannot be stopped, and they know it. Tonight, in one of the greatest cities in the world, society is ripping itself apart. (Penny Red)

I’ve seen it coming! I work in education and have seen students come through the system and leave with very little prospects of a job and lifeskills. There is a lot of anger about families under financial strain, the gulf between rich and poor, the media spreading consumerism, and financial institutions putting pressure on troubled families. (Waed Ali from Leicester)

PLEASE highlight what I have stated in this email on Thursday: this will be the only long lasting solution to the class war on our streets over the last few days, and I have faith that you are compassionate and insightful enough to understand and agree that we need to incite change and cohesion on all levels. Please respond to my email to let me know what the outcomes are when you raise this in Parliament.

Many Thanks,

(Insert Your Name)

ART SAVES LIVES is a small yet highly significant community interest company. Formed in 2008 ASL are dedicated to finding space for any artist- musician- poet or writer who feels -for whatever reason- marginalised by society- to help them to find and share their voice.

Our first commission was to design and build an art installation at the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show for the EDEN PROJECTS KEY GARDEN- the piece was named ‘A Place of Change’- it was very well recieved and won a silver medal. What it did most- was to highlight the plight of Londons homeless community.

ASL believes that plays should be performed- art should be exhibited- poems should be heard and songs should be sung. Many people come from diverse and socially excluded backgrounds- they find it harder to get their voices heard- for some reason mainstream society chooses to keep them out- ASL embraces diversity- whenever possible raising awareness to the passions and the talent for the arts that exists within the margins of society. The artworld is made up of two circles- an inner and an outer circle- there are more people looking in than there are looking out- the walls need to come down- we need to learn to share- making art accessable to all regardless of background.

ASL run courses and projects in some of Londons most socially deprived areas- art exhibitions- plays- we produce films- hold poetry and spoken word readings- music events- we are adept at sourcing not only the most unusual of spaces but some of Londons most exctiting and world renowned venues, such as; THE ICA- THE HOUSE OF ST BARNABAS IN SOHO- BLACKS- THE LEICESTER SQUARE THEATRE- We recieve no government funding and work entirely on a volunteer basis.

“The John Thaw Foundation helps disadvantaged, underprivileged children & young people, offering opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. Arts Saves lives has a number of valuable strands to its work but its projects with young offenders, or those at risk of becoming young offenders,  are driven by the same objective as our own”.
Sheila Hancock, Trustee

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