One of our work experience students from The WASP Centre shares her thoughts, experiences and hope for what community is and could be and points to the importance of family in building strong communities.

What is community?

Community is a place where people can trust each other, a place that helps other people, a place where people feel safe and where they can be open about who they are.

Sometimes communities break though and they need mending.

What would be your ideal community?

An ideal community is for anybody, where everybody is accepted, no matter their age, gender or personality, a place where people can get together and catch up with people that they wouldn’t normally talk to. A place where Mum’s and Dad’s get together and can get support through the challenges they face as parents.

An ideal community would have a church and other places of worship for the main religions in that community.

There would be fun activities for children whilst adults are meeting and socialising.

People that don’t get accepted in school, college or work would be accepted in the community and no one would judge them.

What can cause a community to break down?

Bullying in the community can cause it to break down, people would feel scared to meet together and would end up feeling left out.

Young people don’t want to hang around in their communities because there’s a stigma, unless you are popular you would be bullied for helping older people. There’s a lot of peer pressure to hang out in town and to get drunk, if you don’t want to, you get bullied and followed, you’ll be threatened with being beaten up. If you don’t fit in with the cool kids you will just be bullied.

Bullying is a huge issue and can even come down to what you wear or how you do your hair, anything different to what’s considered cool.

Teachers and the police are working hard, but it’s not enough, lots of young people are being beaten up without consequence, young people need to see that the police are doing something. Otherwise they feel hopeless and there seems like there is no way out, some young people now resort to taking their own lives or attempting to, they want to get out of the situation of being bullied but can’t.

One way people try to deal with the situation is to become like the bullies, but this just damages the community further. Things need to change so that our children don’t have to live like this.

What can be done to mend communities that are broken?

There’s a role for the police to play in stopping things early. There needs to be early intervention in drug taking, people are taking new drugs and its affecting their mental health and behaviour. There’s a breakdown in families, young people are taking drugs and parents aren’t able to do anything.

There needs to be more places for young people to talk to someone, and to build a relationship rather than just talk about a specific issue, trust needs to be built up first before young people will open up.

Life is really hard for young people are there are loads of pressures, it’s hard to get away from people who are a bad influence, but young people need to realise that they can make a choice. You need to get on with your life and focus on the good friendships.

Strong family relationships really help, don’t give up on young people. Sometimes people feel like there’s “no one who cares for me” but its not true, there are people who care. We need to look after each other.

Advice for my younger sister

Trust your family, remember that they care about you, more than ever, and sometimes they are horrible and ground you and take your phone away, it’s only because they love you and don’t want to see you get involved in gangs. Your family is always there for you no matter what and would let you come back, they are your best friends and your only best friends. Some people will want to take advantage of you and use you for money, don’t take money out with you, if you are going out with your friends. Don’t spend all your time on your phone, make sure you socialise with your friends and family and offer to help around the house. If you are going to meet a friend and you feel unsafe, just go home.