Open letter to the Croydon rioters

I recently heard a quote from someone;
“when the voiceless have no voice they will be heard” this quote has been
bouncing around my head now for days. The voiceless have indeed these past days made themselves heard but what are they actually saying? For the past 10 years I have given my
working life to helping young people have a voice. I worked as a Youth
Offfending Team Officer for 8 years and have been attacked in the street on my
way home by people who didn’t like what I had to say. Well, that is always going
to make me more determined to keep on saying what it is I believe they need to
hear. I now work as a Dramatherapist in the National Health Service still serving young people and helping them search for a voice.

I have just thought of a short story
which happened to me at a time in my life when I was desperately unhappy. I was
at the time working as a courier driving around in a white van delivering
mobile telephones. I volunteered to work on Christmas Day one year simply because
I was at the time the only single man there and all the other guys had
children. The part of Surrey that I covered was very wealthy and not far from
there was a local authority housing estate. I first had to go to this housing
estate to make my first delivery. I remember it clearly; it was a rather dark
smelly dingy hallway up some equally unpleasant staircases to a front door
which appeared to wreak havoc by the screaming and foul language coming from
behind it. I barely knocked on the door and introduced myself before a very
tall and aggressive young man ranted four letter words in my direction to
complain that I was 15 minutes later than I said I would be. There was no
gratitude or appreciation on any level other than hostility towards someone he
had never before met. I was soon on my way rather shaken by my experience to my
next job which was in a private house of magnificent stature. My spirit was
soon lifted after introducing myself to the gentleman with an apology that I
was later than he may have thought I should have been, only for him to invite
me in for a cup of tea. He was so grateful that I had delivered his phone on
Christmas day that he gave me £20 when I left. I soon paralleled the two
experiences and decided that it was far better to be grateful no matter what our personal circumstances. I have tried to live my life accordingly ever since.

The people who rioted and stole on
Monday last need to address what it is they need to be grateful and thankful
for. If you can’t think of anything

Take a look in the mirror and just say
thank you for who you are

Say thank you for being healthy

Say thank you for being the colour you

Say thank you for the fact you can
stand there and look at yourself in the face.

Say thank you for the mother who
worked herself into hysteria every night you don’t go home.

Say thank you to the father for time
he’s taken to take you to school when you were running late.

Say thank you to the amount of people
in this town who get up early to serve you at school

Say thank you that you have a past and
a history

Say thank you for the story that makes
up you

Say thank you for the times your
parents have taken the time to care

Say thank you to a system in this
county that attempts to get it right

Say thank you that sometimes they just

Say thank you for those that try.

Say thank you for shop keepers that
have served your families and communities for decades.

Say it if you dare to, after taking that which doesn’t belong!

Two years ago I travelled with a
friend across France and Belgium visiting places that generations before me had
died giving their lives to freedom I now enjoy. I stood there and wept at the
sacrifice of young men most of them younger than you that died for me to enjoy
this freedom.

My thank you to them changed my life
and has made me more determined to keep on serving young people amid the pain
of looking at you now with your new trainers and widescreen TV.

I know it’s only two words but my
heart at the moment burns with rage at the fact I’m still fighting for you even
when I can’t speak the same language. I’m saying thank you for keeping me
employed. Thank you for giving me purpose to keep on fighting for what’s right.
Thank you, no really, thank you for ensuring that I’m going to be employed for
a long time to come thank you!

Because even though you can’t see it
yourself there is a genius inside of you. And even if “thank you” cannot come
out of you just yet, just think on this “thank you” may not change the world
instantly but “thank you” will change you.

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