Simon Fanshawe visits an ambitious community project in Bridging the Gap at 1100 on Monday 7th August. The gap in question is the cavernous void between young and old that breeds mistrust and anxiety.
Pat Stewart and Rob Burley run the On the Streets project in Gorton, Manchester. Their aim is to develop in young teenagers a sense of their community and show them there is more to life than spiralling from ASBO to serious crime.
In the programme, the 15- and 16 year-olds talk frankly about a life they feel has little to offer them - with few or no facilities, threats from gangs, and nothing to occupy their time.
The programme attends an events day run by Pat and Rob at the Angel Community Centre, where one highlight is the hand massage session that not only gives the over-60s a chance to relax and enjoy a bit of pampering, but more importantly, a chance for young and old to talk and exchange stories from their very different lives.
The campaign itself has won awards for breaking down barriers and helping to develop communication and common interest across generations, and Pat and Rob are determined to take young people out of the thug mode and elderly people out of the victim mode.
As one of the documentary's producers, Tamsyn Challenger, says, To hear a 14-year-old talking about 80-year-old Lou on his estate is heartening when there is little positive coverage of 14-year-old Manchester lads living in depressed areas.
Simon Fanshawe discusses the project both with the scheme's leaders and also with the police, and guides us through the On the Streets story. Download and start listening now!