I’m writing this from my flat in London. I live on the Bemerton estate, behind King’s Cross station.
It’s classic inner city London: New developments next to 1960’s housing estates.
Middle class professionals in the midst of social housing tenants.
More social housing than new development, but it usually feels fairly safe, despite the obvious lack of wealth.
Last night one local supermarket on Caledonian road was attacked.
Much larger-scale incidents have been taking place in Enfield, Tottenham and Hackney since Saturday.
As I walked through my neighbourhood this evening the tension in the air was almost palpable.
On the way home I saw numerous heavy duty police vehicles headed out to the trouble spots.
Given the relationship on my estate between some local youths and the police, they may be back where I live tonight.
A journalist friend of mine has just been on the BBC talking about how some incidents are being co-ordinated via the Blackberry messenger service and are set to spread tonight.
Meanwhile the chair of the inner city youth education charity I am trustee of, Simon Marcus, has just been on Channel Four news talking about how communities can develop their own solutions.
It’s all feeling very close to home for me tonight as a result.
It looks like it will be a long night for the police and many others in London.
The trigger for this was apparently the shooting of a man in Tottenham.
It’s not yet known whether he shot a policeman who was also wounded in the incident a few days ago. Time will out the truth there.
It appears to be spreading tonight to other UK cities now.
What’s worrying about all this is anarchic nature of it all.
A few co-ordinated messages, passed on, and groups of teenagers and others have caused chaos, smashing up shops and looting in their own communities.
Commentators will blame the cuts in public spending meaning closure of youth clubs, combined with lower police numbers and record highs in youth unemployment.
My concern is that this may just be the beginning. We’ve been here before in the UK.
I grew up seeing scenes like this on 1980’s television, which was the last time we had this level of financial austerity.
It took a lot of time, money and effort to bring stability back to inner city communities in London, Liverpool and other cities.
Business can play a role here. By supporting local education and youth groups that make a difference.
I’ve seen first hand, and continue to, just how community projects, when run well, can make a difference in deprived areas.
The Boxing Academy is among the first wave of new, realistically-orientated community projects that really matter.
Unlike some UK charities in the CSR world who like businesses to hand them cash and have vast numbers of dizzy employees, real, lean, pragmatic community projects will need your company’s help in the coming years.
Time to get ‘strategic’ about community funding. Time to look at measurable results. Time to support organisations like the Boxing Academy. Take a look at their website for yourself.
Groups like this are the best chance companies have of making a difference in deprived communities in the coming years of slow growth and massive public spending cuts here in the UK.