'We must never forget about the importance of community'
In the distant past, there were communities and relatives lived nearby.
There were no TVs, no computers, people walked and nobody owned a car. Adults and children filled the streets. There were small shops, picture halls, churches, chapels, Salvation Army etc.
There was unemployment and poverty, resulting in gangs of youths, but the community, aided by the police, made people feel safe.
You lived by rules: no gambling, no loitering, no gathering in groups.
If police appeared, you moved on. If there were punch-ups when pubs closed, the police arrived in a van and made arrests.
There was a community spirit.
The arrival of the car depopulated the pavements. We had left the streets. Our homes today are protected by burglar alarms, CCTV, security locks etc. Our relationship with our neighbours has changed. We hardly know them, and people keep moving.
Cuts in police means fewer community officers. They were important and their trained eyes made residents and shopkeepers feel comforted. They were interested in what went on in communities. Police have new technology and more sophisticated tools for crime prevention and investigation today.
My brother came from the old community. He was well educated and led an interesting life but never forgot the community.
After retiring, he went on to be a director of a youth and community centre in a poor part of London.
He made friendships across social divides, and he worked with people of all backgrounds over the years. He never forgot his old community.
Today we often read of young people who take part in community work. Most of them will grow up to be responsible citizens and caring people. They will use technology for the social good.
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