Well, I have been very busy of late. Too busy to blog, but not too busy to have a good old nosey around the 'blogosphere' or whatever 18 year old spotty googly tycoon calls it...lots of fab stuff out there, really inspirational..!
Anyhoo, apart from trench foot and the remnants of a fake tan, I have very little to show for this summer...I didn't go away or take any time off. I am bloody knackered. I spent the summer working on the estate delivering 'summer activities' to a largely disinterested group of people. Apart from 2 notable exceptions (worthy of a posting all to themselves) the families just didn't engage..I've come to the conclusion that there was just too much on offer and this meant that decisions had to be made and these families cannot cope with this - they are used to someone else making the decision for them, so remain passive and inactive....plus the weather didn't help.
One particular day is worth reporting. We took a group of 12 kids to a local prison as part of a crime diversion programme. Facinating. They had broken a seatbelt before we had even left the estate. One (almost tootless) 15 yearold spent the entire journey chomping through tube after tube of chewits. The noise level in the bus was almost unbearable and broke several EU directives on decibel limits I'm sure. Their behaviour was atrocious. Once inside the prison, they became even more excitable. All saw the trip an opportunity to show how tough and unafraid they were...until we met the prisioners who were our 'hosts' for the day.
All were male, middle aged and very sad. Two were lifers, one was just 25 and all had kids on the outside. The were nice blokes, literate, articulate, someone you would not think was involved in criminality in any way if you met them in the street. They went to great lengths to tell their stories to these kids. They explained that there was no such thing as petty crime - crime was crime. They told of their daily feeling of loss and loneliness and how prison had affected their families. They were ashamed and were remourseful. They were inspirational and I wish I could take every youngster who carries a knife or runs drugs or commits criminal damage to see just what happens to kids who get caught up in crime.
Did the visit have an impact on the kids from the estate? Three older boys were very affected and visibly moved. You could see the penny dropping right there in that room. The rest of the kids? I couldn't really say - except that we had to stop the mini bus three times on the way back to deal with their behaviour including throwing out the broken seatbelt thorough the window at 50 miles and hour. Some kids just don't get it.