If ever there was an example of how to shape your own community, then it happening every single day in Dagenham and Rainham.
It is not just a sport of the political classes, nor those in their senior years. Young people care too.
I am working with a fantastic group of young people from all walks of life and political beliefs.
Last year a fourteen year old student walked into my office and articulated the problems that he was facing in our community. At the time, I don’t know who was more shocked; me worrying about his concerns and how we could resolve the issues of today when the Conservative party get into government; or him actually speaking to “a politician who listened [to him]” and agreed to take action.
One year on and we now have an inspiring group aged between fourteen and nineteen who have met up throughout the year, collated their ideas and have articulated their concerns to a host of politicians from Shadow Cabinet to City Hall.
They are clear that local government doesn’t have all the answers nor do they believe that the laws are on their side, but they do know that they want to shape their community so that they feel safer. They also now know that people like them should be encouraged to give their solutions to today’s problems.
In the last few weeks the government has made clear that the ASBO’s haven’t had the desired effect. The people at the front line aren’t just the elderly; in fact you’re statistically twice as likely to be a victim of crime if you’re young. For too long the current government has paid lip service to the issues effecting young people today. The example set by the group of young people in Dagenham and Rainham should be a shining example of trusting the people.
Local community leadership means that people of all ages in places like Dagenham and Rainham are at the centre of the solutions to the problems this country faces today. These guys have been an inspiration.