In 2011 the streets of London witnessed the worst violence in over 25 years. Suggested contributing factors included family breakdown, social breakdown, poor relations with the police and unemployment. A YouGov poll was carried out on 8–9 August 2011 for The Sun asking what those surveyed believed to be the main cause of the riots. In it, 26% of those polled thought “gang culture” to be the main cause. In particular, young people were singled out by media and politicians as those responsible.
One year on, Random House and Live Magazine have teamed up to create two short videos focussing on what has changed for young people over the last year, and what positives have come out of the 2011 riots. The first film shows LIVE contributors debating the issues, one year on, in a variety of locations. They are sitting in the high street, asking whether or not adults are obsessed by the riots; they’re drinking coffee in a cafe, talking about whether the riots politicised young people; and they’re at the bus stop, asking whether the riots opened up new, positive platforms for young people.
The film also contains a specially-commissioned new poem from LIVE contributor Clarissa Pabi, who was singled out by Michelle Obama on the First Lady’s visit to Oxford in May last year. The film can be viewed HERE
The second film is a conversational piece between author John Lucas and 17 year old Monique Howell one of the young contributors from Live talking about his book TURF, and about the gang context of the riots in more depth.The second film can be viewed HERE
To coincide with the anniversary of the riots, Bodley Head will be publishing TURF, which explores issues of teenage gang violence on the streets of London and the issues that lead these youths to makes the choices they do. Author John Lucas was born and raised in Hackney and has been both a witness to and a victim of street violence. He was heavily influenced by the glut of stories about gang violence and knife crime in the press while writing TURF and this along with his own personal experience of growing up and living in Hackney led him to write a story which reflects the lives of many inner -city teens living in today’s society.
John Lucas says ‘‘I have a lot of sympathy for people caught up in that world, partly because of my own experiences, but also because I think our unbalanced society is more to blame than they are. I don’t believe the riots would have happened, and I don’t believe gang violence would be anywhere near the issue it is if there were more opportunities out there and people had a better quality of life. Dealing with that should come first before people point the finger. It’s a theme that runs through both the issues in Turf and the fallout from the riots. Also, far too much one-dimensional demonization goes on, both in fiction and in the media, and I felt there was a gap there for a different take on those issues.’
About Random House Children’s Publishers UK: RHCP is an award-winning publisher for children of all ages. Its bestselling authors include Sir Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Lauren Kate, Christopher Paolini and Joe Delaney and illustrators Quentin Blake, Shirley Hughes, Louise Yates and Nadia Shireen. It is home to successful series such as Astrosaurs and Battersea Dogs and its licensed properties include Transformers Prime and Spiderman, RHCP also holds the current DreamWorks publishing licence. The company is proud to publish five of the Children’s Laureates. RHCP is developing a range of innovative digital publishing projects, including the Mortal Kiss story serialisation which ran with Stardoll and won a Digital Innovation Award. RHCP is part of The Random House Group owned by Bertelsmann, one of the world’s largest media groups.
About LIVE: LIVE Magazine is a media hub run by under 24s. This includes a 50,000 print-run national magazine, a website
and YouTube site that has had over a million views. LIVE Magazine has been running for 11 years and is published by youth engagement agency Livity from their Brixton offices.