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Leicester co-operative project
The intention within this report is to present a proposal for a business project that will assist in addressing the socio-economic needs of the multi-cultural and immigrant youth communities that exist within the city of Leicester, particularly in relation to the consequence of crime and disorder. The project will have a commercial aspect in that it is designed to generate revenue for the business.
The YTL (Youth Teamwork Leicester) project will be set up as a small business, as defined by various researches (Carter and Jones-Evans 2006, ch.2), with its legal structure being that of a commercial co-operative. The reason for this structure is to ensure that, after allowing for administration, reinvestment and financing costs, the intention is to share profits between those who work within the business.
The main activities of the business will fall within two specific areas. The first of these will be restorative and repair work and the second will be the provision of care services. In respect of the first sector, this will include repairing damage to both private and public property, for example, making good graffiti and physical damage caused by anti-social behaviour. Similarly, it is intended that the care services sector will also have a private and public appeal by providing assistance with the provision of care to the elderly, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the local community. There is no true quality without mutuality”, (Davis 1995 p.15).
Apart from three key board members, all of the co-operative workers will consist of young people between the ages of 16 and 25, and of mixed indigenous and multi-ethnic origin. Each of these workers will serve a one-year term with the business, with the potential for a subsequent unpaid advisory, mentoring or training role. At the commencement of each subsequent year a new team of workers will be introduced. The three key members will be the chairpersons together with an expert entrepreneur with relevant expertise in the field of property repairs and services and a person of a similar ilk from the care industry sector. These persons will provide their services in return for a limited remuneration and will not share in co-operative profits.
In terms of the customer base, and in view of the lack of initial expertise of the business workers it is anticipated the customers will be generated from local government and non-governmental organisations and commercial organisations within the industry sector being targeted.
In addition to the external services, the business will also provide training facilities for the workforce.
Initial funding requirements for the business will be provided from the securing of grants and government assisted loans such as the SBLGS, which will be repaid at commercial rates (Carter and Jones-Evans 2006, ch.a8)..
Socio-Economic environment in Leicester
According to a report prepared by the local Leicestershire Partnership against Crime and Disorder (Report 2006, p.10), the city of Leicester is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the UK, and has the least percentage of indigenous population, being 60.43 percent against 87.49% for the national average. In addition it is one of the top ten areas for unemployment and lack of academic qualifications. Further more the report (2006, p.11 and p.12) reveals that of the 47,282 reported crimes for the year 2003 – 2004, antisocial crime, being arson, damage and hate, accounted for 20%. This means that, during that year nearly 9.500 offences were committed in this area of the statistics.
Similarly, Local police records for Leicestershire show that, whilst the level of criminal damage was reduced when comparing June 2007 with the same month in the previous year (see figure 1), on an annual basis it is still increasing (see figure 2).
These figures exclude the increasing rates of burglary, theft of cars and criminal racial incidents. In Leicester itself the rate of criminal damage has increased from 37.5 per 1,000 populations in 2000 – 2001 to 41.6 per 1,000 of population in 2004 – 2005, which represents an increase of nearly 11%.
Within these statistics there are there are three main areas of crime that young people are predominantly involved in. These are anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, vehicle theft or damage and racial hatred.
In the Leicester area during the 2003 – 2004 year there was a 7% increase in the incidences of anti-social behaviour compared with the previous year (Report 2006, p.47). From the research conducted it appears that the majority of have been these offences fell into five main categories, these being: –
- Threatening actions and phone calls.
- Graffiti, vandalism and material damage
- Causing neighbourhood and community problems
- Disorder in a public place and
- Noise violations.
The result of these issues does tend to inbreed fear and concern into members of the local community, particularly in respect of the elderly and other disadvantaged demographic sectors. One of the main concerns of communities is their safety and comfort and they expect the local constabulary to provide this for them, which the above figures and statistics show is not the case.
Criminal damage covers a wide range of social crimes, both against personal and public property. The definition of criminal damage covers a wide area of offences. For example, it can include litter offences, graffiti, and actual damage to the properties. For example, in the case of private or public or property damage, destroying fences, gardens and windows. The same actions are applicable to both property and vehicles.
Racial hatred and abuse can manifest itself in one of two ways. It can be of a verbal or physical nature. Whist both are unacceptable, the physical racial abuse within the Leicester area has led to extreme violence and, in a number of cases, fatalities.. Incidences of racial hatred in Leicester are significantly higher than the national average. This is primarily because of the cities high concentration of ethnic mix when compared with the national average, as has been indicated within this report. Consequently to this situation the indigenous population will feel threatened by the presence of ethnic and immigration minorities. There are several reasons for this.
- A lack of understanding and appreciation of the cultural difference that exists between the various communities. There is a body of opinion, which has to some extent been fostered by the media, which proposes that people from other nations and religions should, when residing in the UK, comply with the UK culture. However, this denies them the right to preserve their own ancestry and traditions.
- The perception that these minorities are depriving the indigenous population of work opportunities. Such a response would be exacerbated by the higher than national rate of unemployment in the area. In addition, whether by accident or government degree, ethnic minorities are perceived to receive beneficial and preferential treatment from a range of government and non-governmental departments. In particular, this perception would extend to housing, unemployment and other available benefits.
- Fear is another key cause of disputes between the various ethnic and indigenous communities. Aligned with the lack of understanding, this is an emotion that often results where two or more diverse cultures are located within a close-knit community. Fear breeds protectionism and often this manifests itself by way of attacking the root cause of that fear, which in this case would be the ethnic community that is perceived to represent a danger or threat
Local authorities and the police have the legislative implements and powers to be able to address crimes that are committed within the above identified areas. For example there is the ability for the police, local authorities, housing associations to use their powers to issue Anti-social behaviour orders against the offender, which can include the instigation of an exclusion zone surrounding the area where the offence took place. Similarly the police and local courts can seek prosecution and even imprisonment for the consistent offender.
However, these powers do not of itself, deal with the root cause of the problem, which is to understand and address that have produced this behaviour in the first place. Neither does the legal reaction to these issues necessarily resolve or change the future conduct of the offender, despite the fact that criminal prosecutions can be instigated should the orders be breached in the future.
In addition to solutions there Is a need to address both understand and address the root causes of these social issues and their economic impact, as this is the only way to ensure that there is a sustainable reduction in the current levels.
There are a number of causes that can be attributed to the rising incidences of the crimes outlined previously.
Social positioning in terms of the demographic areas where youths are domiciled has a bearing on their actions. The conditions experienced within the poorer area of Leicester will impact upon their perception of other areas of the city. For example there may be a resentment generated by the unfairness of the social divide. Some alleviation of this perception can be achieved by undertaking regeneration programmes that will improve the living standards of these impoverished areas.
Whilst there are a number of local and central government schemes available for youths within the city, many of these do not allow for either hands-on experience, nor do they provide the youth with any form of meaningful recompense for the time that is spent. Thus, in themselves, they do not address part of the core problem, particularly in relation to the previously identified cause.
Employment levels within Leicester are high compared with other areas of the country and, in addition, the gradual change from its historical manufacturing industry predominance to a more modern and technological work environment has resulted in gap between the learned skills of the local workforce and those that are required by business. There is a need to address this skill differential to ensure that local youths are better prepared for the work environment once they have finished their education.
The varieties of cultures that now exist within the area are naturally a cause of tension. This is brought about mainly by the seeming ability to effectively integrate these factions. More effort needs to be made in encouraging communication and understanding between the various ethnic groups if this matter is to be resolved.
There is an economic cost to the crimes and disorders that have been outlined within this report. These cost are incurred by a number of governmental departments, local authorities and, either directly or indirectly, members of the public and commercial organisations.
In terms of the police and authorities there is the economic cost of processing actions against the offending person and, in extreme cases, their internment. Similarly, there is the cost both of repairing the damage cause and of funding the variety of scheme that are being implemented in an effort to remedy the situation. From the public and commercial organisations viewpoint, these sectors suffer from increases in local and national taxes, and the cost of repairing damage that is not covered by local authorities. For example damage to personal property and cars will result in claims to insurance companies or, where such items are not sufficient covered, cost to a member of the public, which at the least will involve them having to pay any excess due on such claims.
Whilst there is a need to vigorously address the root causes of these social problems, it is also apparent that it is necessary to address the economics of the situation as well. This can partially be achieved by involving commercial organisations within the resolution process, thus reducing the impact on the public purse.
Operation How will the operations of YTL help to address these issues? In the author’s opinion it can help on a number of levels.
By integrating persons from a number of different cultural backgrounds, it is intended that the business will provide a vehicle through which young people will be able to meet and work together. Thus, partially as a result of the interaction and communication that takes place in the workplace, they will learn that cultural differences do not pose a threat to anyone. Similarly, the teamwork that will be required within the co-operative format should enable differences to be resolved and allow each worker to change their attitudes and perceptions in their private lives. This should lead to the various ethnic workers achieving a greater level of respect for each other.
The public perception of the issues raised within this report show that there is an increasing fear of the impact that non-indigenous and immigrant minorities is having upon the levels of crime. Similarly, there is a belief that young people generally are responsible for a significant level of the crimes being committed. By the provision of youth labour through our project, it is intended that there will be an improved level of communication between the generations, which will both reduce the levels of few and help to address the issues that arise between the various age demographic sectors. In addition it will provide the youth worker with an insight into the consequence of their actions, helping them to understand the affect that these actions may have upon others within the community.
Training and Employment
With the levels of unemployment being a contributing factor to the behaviour of youth today, particularly in the Leicester area, one of the intentions of YT is to provide a short-term solution to that problem. However, in addition, by placing these workers within a workplace where they can achieve practical experience under the tutorship of experts within their chosen field, together with providing I-house training, it is anticipated that this will also assist in allowing them to gain entry into an appropriate career upon their departure. Similarly, as they are being paid for the work that they perform it should help them to appreciate that they have a value to the community, and that they can improve their socio-demographic positioning within the community.
Another area where it is believed that the YTL business would be beneficial is in the fact that it is a commercial concern and structured as a co-operative. The former element will assist the workers in understanding of the financial consequences of their actions within a work environment and, similarly, ensure that they are aware that their position has to be maintained by merit. The latter factor, by involving them within the committee and decision process will give an understanding of responsibility.
To successfully manage this project, the author is aware that there is need to acquire news skills. In essence these relate to three main areas, these being leadership, management and communication skills. In view of the structure of the project envisaged, it will be important to be able to engage the people involved and empower them to work individually and as a team to achieve the objectives through their own innovative approach (Gill 2006, p.17 and p.227; Carter ad Dylan Jones 2006, ch.5).
As Gill (2006, p.227) comments there is a need to “manage things.” Therefore it is important to have the necessary management skills to ensure the business resources, be those employees or material resources, are in the right place throughout the supply chain to ensure the efficiency of the business operations. Management is the creation and monitoring of a control system to achieve maximum productivity and satisfaction of customer demands.
Finally, communication skills will be essential. Open communication (Gill 2006, p.140) is important to ensure that knowledge is shared throughout the organisation.
It is the author’s opinion that the creation of the project outlined within this report will assist in the reduction of the youth multi-racial issues that currently exist within Leicester. Empowering young people from all ethnic backgrounds to work together and better understand the cultural differences that exist between them will achieve this. Similarly it will raise their awareness of the importance of their impact on the local community culture, whilst rewarding them for their efforts.
Stokes D and Wilson, N (2006). Small Business Management & Entrepreneurship. 5th edition, Thomson Learning. London, UK
Carter, Sara and Jones-Evans, Dylan (2006). Enterprise and Small Business. Second edition, FT Prentice Hall. London, UK
Gill, Roger (2006). Theory and Practice of Leadership. Sage Publications Ltd. London, UK.
Davis, Peter (1995). Co-operative Management and Co-operative Purpose. Management Centre. University of Leicester, UK
Report (2006). Community Safety Strategy April 2005 – 2008. Leicester Partnership against Crime and Disorder. Leicester, UK.
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