Tonight I witnessed something special. I was at a public meeting in my ward which has a long track record of heated debates about "Youth disorder" and what was I going to do about it.
The police gave their report which said youth calls were dropping to much muttering and shaking of heads... and then this elderly gentleman who had arrived using a "zimmer on wheels' contraption, (what my grannie called her birdcage!). I waited for the harsh words. Instead he said this; "The trouble is we don't talk to these kids. I speak to them, tell them my name and they tell me theirs. They like that. Now they hail me from a cross the road, and check up that I'm ok. They ask what I am doing and I ask what they are up to. Its not complicated. Its just a wee bit respect".
The whole tone of the meeting changed and one person told a story of how she had been told that this chap had been seen "surrounded by teenagers" and the police had been called. only to discover that this chap was just standing talking with the kids and they with him!
What a wonderful example of some-one seeing past the prejudice and looking at the human being. I was inspired as was the rest of the meeting. It was a brilliant moment of hope and challenge to us all and I will drink deep of its strength for some time to come.
Keith Simpson's Christmas Reading List
6 hours ago