Riots: a year on
It was a year ago that frightening scenes of violence, arson and looting filled our televisions screens. Police were trying to gain control of the streets as people rioted across various parts of London, walking into shops and taking what goods they wanted. One newspaper showed an image of a woman jumping out of a building that was on fire. Social media websites were rife with speculation as to where the riots were spreading to next. People were losing their homes and businesses as the riots seemed to escalate out of control and moved further north out of the capital as well.
One the businesses to fall victim to the riots was the family-run furniture retailer House of Reeves in Croydon, south London, which was founded in 1867, when one of its two adjacent buildings was destroyed. Yet today a year on, storeowner Trevor Reeves has worked in conjunction with the charities vInspired and Do Something to showcase a Reverse Riots campaign looking to challenge the negative perceptions of young people in Britain.
The House of Reeves store has been covered with over 4,000 photographic portraits of young people in Britain holding positive messages about themselves.
Trevor Reeves said: “The positive legacy of the riots was the coming together of people of all ages and from all walks of life to help mend the capital. We were overwhelmed by the support that was offered to our family and many others affected in the days and weeks that followed. We are blessed with so many bright, inspirational and positive young people in this country and I believe it’s important that we don’t allow the actions of such a few cloud our judgment of the many.”
The Reverse Riots campaign was launched in June to give young people the opportunity to show what they offer to society and prove that, despite the headlines, they are making a positive contribution.
The campaign comes after a YouGov poll of 2,000 people found that almost two thirds of the population felt that young people were the catalyst for the riots a year ago. But the research also revealed that it’s young people who are most likely to volunteer and get involved in their community positively.
Prime minister David Cameron, who is backing the campaign along with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, said : “The riots last summer were a wake-up call for the country and I am determined that we will do everything we can to tackle the causes of the riots to ensure we never see scenes like that again. As we approach the first anniversary of the riots I'm pleased to see vInspired highlighting the good work that young people are doing in Britain and working with youth role models to encourage them to do something positive.
“It's important to give all young people the chance to become involved in their community and do something positive so I wish vInspired every success in their campaign.”