Friday, 08 March 2013

In praise of gangs

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Over the last half-century, we have taken part in a nationwide experiment.
50 years ago, lots of Brits were in gangs. Well – groups anyway. Groups that met regularly and where people from different incomes and generations would meet.  

Some were called community centres, some churches, some trade unions, some local political parties, mothers unions, boys brigades etc etc.

Since then we have conducted an amazing experiment to see what happens if lots of us stop joining and stop attending.

And we have gained some things as a result. More lie-ins, more free time, more shopping time, more TV, more privacy.

But we have lost too. For these groups were the spaces where people from different ages, incomes and ethnicities met and built trust. They were the engines of integration. Without them, our neighbourhood is a place where strangers live.

We can’t turn back the clock. The old groups are just that.

But anyone who cares about uniting Britain should start building the new groups we need for the 21st Century. Groups that everyone wants to be a member of. Groups that bring us together.

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