In work for a voluntary childcare agency in the north of England, we encountered one group of young people on a council housing estate with limited play facilities, who were excluded from most recreation facilities, including youth clubs, on account of their disruptive behaviour. We sat with them and asked them what, in an ideal world, they would like to happen. They listed things we could not directly change, or which would take much longer to influence, such as they way they viewed school, what they were taught and how it was taught. They also talked about how people treated them and how it felt to be labelled as ‘bad’, so that whenever fresh trouble occurred on the housing estate, they were the first people the police called on. We took action to work more closely with the local school, by one of us meeting the school counsellor, which led, after a while, to us being invited regularly to meetings between the counsellor and teaching staff. We also invited the community police officer to meet us with the young people and see some of the positive work they were doing. There was one local aspect of life in their community they identified that we thought we could help with: their complaint that there was nowhere to play and when they played on the street, residents constantly complained.
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