Amol Rajan: A plea from the heart and the street - to your pocket

***

Updated: 30.5.2012. Please make a small donation to help keep alive a vital charity that saves children's lives on the streets of North London. Text QQPS18 £2 / £5 / £10 to 70070 to donate now (e.g. QQPS18 £2). If every person who reads this donated just £2, we could fund a street worker for an entire year. Thank you.

***

view gallery VIEW GALLERY
Share
Related Topics

This is a column no columnist is supposed to write. The whole business of journalism is to put the reader first, not one's own interests. But these are desperate times, and in response to a critical situation I am going to flaunt that rule.

For the past three years I have been involved, first as a street worker and then as a trustee, in a charity called Prospex ( prospex.org.uk) in Islington, where I live. Prospex is the only thing stopping the area north of King's Cross from erupting in anarchy. Three main youth workers - Richard 'Beef' Frankland (above), James Connolly, and Maxine Johnson - and a few local volunteers patrol the streets day and night, bringing calm and authority and establishing trust with extremely vulnerable young people.

Many of them are involved in knife crime, gangs, and have given up on education. Most are from horribly broken homes. Beef, James, and Maxine keep them out of trouble, mentor them on a 1-to-1 basis, run local community projects and literacy and numeracy courses, support them in courts and at school, and raise their horizons. Hundreds of local children and young adults openly say they would be in prison now, or dead, were it not for Prospex helping them over many years.

Beef, James, and Maxine are probably the three most inspirational people I have ever met, uncomplaining heroes of civic society. Each has taken a huge pay cut (from a low start) to keep working. But now our funding situation is critical, a result of recessionary economics and austerity politics. It runs out in the next few months. The local council has slashed its funding. Our only major corporate donor couldn't give last year. Local patrons say they're skint. Already local police, the council and social services know how much load we take off them. The difference is we're doing it with no money.

If you work for a funding body or trust, or in the corporate social responsibility department of a big corporation: please get in touch. The same goes if you live in North London and are willing to give up a few hours a week to volunteer, either by bringing adult authority to your streets, or to help us with applications for funding. Above all, personal donations, however small, are crucial to us.

The plight of Prospex (@prospextweets) shows the gulf between the principles of the Big Society, which I support, and the practice, which in this case I abhor. Nothing matters more than nurturing the vulnerable young, and if you can in any way help us to do that, Beef, James, and Maxine need you. Together with these silent soldiers of civilisation, you can reduce the suffering on our streets.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£4848 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Outstanding...

Cover Supervisors/Teaching Assistants Secondary Schools in York

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors/Long Term Teaching Ass...

Science Teacher

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher...

Cover Supervisor

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors needed for seco...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: EU news, and other reasons to be cheerful

John Rentoul
The influx of hundreds of thousands of eastern European workers has significantly altered the composition of some parts of Britain  

Immigration is the issue many in Labour fear most

Nigel Morris
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker