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Minister praises Big Yellow London project's innovative work with young people and police

10 May 2015: A pioneering arts project funded by VGCY has been praised by Government Minister for building trust between the police and young people in South East London.

The Minister for the Third Sector was visiting the Big Yellow London Centre for Youth Arts project in Deptford, Lewisham last week (Thursday 6 December), which was celebrating £58,000 grant from v as part of the new vinvolved programme.

The project brings young volunteers, aged 16-25, and the police together for face-to-face dialogue and drama-based workshops that explore their different views and tackle issues such as Stop and Search. The project has significantly improved community relations.

Sarah Smith, MP, said: "I am very impressed by the enthusiasm of all the young people and the police in such a pioneering initiative, which is making a really positive impact on the local community. It is by creating greater understanding through projects like Big Yellow London that we can help break down the barriers that often stand in the way of us enjoying safer communities."

Many of the volunteers at Big Yellow London say they have had negative encounters on the streets that have made them feel vulnerable or unsafe; others have friends and family members who have been victims of crime. They believe the project has helped build bridges in the community and is improving safety on the streets.

"It's been a difficult project for all of us because it means we have to face our own personal problems and preconceptions about the police," says Logic, a 20-year-old former volunteer who has now become a trainee tutor at Big Yellow London.

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Police and members of the Territorial Support Group 4 (TSG4) have been so impressed, they have awarded the project £10,000 to support the development of police skills to work with young people in the community and to run training for new police recruits.

: "Police officers can not know what is happening in young people's lives or how young people think about their daily experiences unless there are opportunities to meet and talk on an informal basis beyond that zone of confrontation. This is what we have been doing and it has been ground-breaking work. I am looking forward to working on our joint plans for the future."

Labour's love affair with Europe

Labour has had a conflicted relationship with “Europe” and its various stages of political union, ever since Ernie Bevin rejected Jean Monet’s 1950s plan for a European Coal and Steel Community because “the Durham Miners wouldn’t buy it”.

Political historian Peter Hennessy has explained that this opposition reflected both the workers’ concerns that they would lose control of the just-newly nationalised heavy industries, but also how those same men had fought across Europe just a decade before as the Durham Light Infantry, and would be loath to share any form of power or sovereignty with their former foes.

More than half a century later, these old suspicions and enmities have dwindled but Labour has remained restricted by a parochial Weltanschauung.

Tony Blair promised in 1997 to put Britain “at the heart of Europe” but rapidly found himself constrained first by New Labour’s timidity towards the tabloid press (remember The Sun’s headline describing then-German finance minister Oskar Lafontaine as “the most dangerous man in Europe” over tax harmonization proposals?), and then by the toxic fallout from the Iraq War and Donald Rumsfeld’s distinctions between “Old” and “New” Europe.

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