Anyway, having solved the mystery of the mask (and the mystery of why anyone in their right mind would choose to cover up Tom Hardy's delicious face) I then stumbled across a clip of some of the lovely work he's doing for the Prince’s Trust.

Might I add that the very same people he's trying to help are not dissimilar to the muffled voices that live in my new novel, Block. Getting pointers from an ex-addict must surely help. Tom has admitted in countless interviews that financially/socially he had a good start in life but just took a wrong turn somewhere. Unfortunately some kids have less of a foundation to build upon. A lot of families face daily challenges. I’m not even talking about the big life changing events like a death in the family, someone losing their job or a father walking out, I’m talking about the tiny ways in which societies can become ground down into the dirt. The minuscule events which eat away morsel by minuscule morsel. Without the right support it’s too easy for some kids to fall into a certain pattern of behaviour, behaviours sometimes inherited simply by virtue of the location of their home, behaviours that they acquire almost through a process of osmosis by being too close to crime and poverty. Add to that, endless bureaucracy and inefficiency and, without meaning to remove any element of personal responsibility, you have real recipe for disaster. So it's great that the Prince’s Trust does such work to help kids turn their lives around but a lot of their problems should never arise in the first place.

There will always be poverty, and it's always relative of course, but surprise surprise lives can be made a lot worse by mismanagement by various agencies and the Government is at the top of the chain. Take children’s centres for example; in these poorer areas I have spoken to so many people who have lost their jobs. Some centres have closed full stop with others having to downscale the services that they offer. I know the recession is hitting everywhere but does it make sense to batter childcare centres so hard when they are the information hubs of some of these poorer communities? They are not only a safe place for disadvantaged children to play and learn but a place where developmental issues can be picked up early and addressed by various experts, a place where parents can meet others in similar situations to themselves and gain support, a place where out of work parents can learn new skills and gain advice, a place where some people learn parenting skills so that they don’t just repeat patterns generation after generation. These are the places that strengthen communities and offer a way out. These kinds of services are of benefit to us all as a society… rich or poor.

It's all very well setting up youth programs. I have nothing against that, but sometimes you can improve a person’s life in small ways just by fixing a lock that's been broken or providing them with a noise free and pollution free environment, by setting up CCTV cameras and patrolling problem areas. You’d be surprised what a child can achieve when they can breathe clean air, get a good night’s sleep (without listening to wannabe ASBO chick/chap from three floors up) and go out to play without tripping over a crack pipe. And please please please can they one day visit the local play park without fear of being eaten by a rabid dog that’s been cross bred to within an inch of its life? It does wonders for their confidence. Create better management of estates/social housing and better policing and a better justice system, create better schools and better support for people who want to do the right thing and you might just create better communities who don't see drugs and crime as their default option.




 


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