Letter: A place for misfits

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The Independent Culture
A place for misfits

Sir: Your report on the Government's proposed new civilian patrols ("Jobless could join crime fighters", 4 August) highlights the fact that the people labelled as troublemakers by our society often have the most to give.

Engaging ex-offenders, drug-users and long-term unemployed people as volunteers demonstrates that giving people responsibility for others is a powerful incentive in turning their lives around. Research shows that 70 per cent of drug-users involved as volunteers overcome their addiction.

In a climate in which we are increasingly encouraged to trust no one but our immediate friends and family, these volunteers prove that giving people a second chance pays dividends not only for them, but for the whole community.

A new partnership with Sussex police, involving young people in community safety initiatives as part of the Government's Millennium Volunteers programme, is already demonstrating the willingness of young people to volunteer. Many of these young people have plenty of their own problems, but experience tells us that they may well make the best volunteers.


Executive Director, CSV

London N1