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Warning over cuts to youth services

A leading children's charity has warned about the impact of cuts to youth services a year on from the riots in English cities.

Elaine Hindal, director of communications and advocacy for the Children's Society, said the organisation could see "no evidence" to suggest a repeat of the disorder on the streets of London and other major cities last August.

But she said there was concern over the impact of cuts on projects designed to help boost self-esteem and resilience among young people.

"We are concerned that in the current climate we are seeing some examples of where services are being cut back, they are preventative services, particularly for adolescents, that will help them develop self-esteem and resilience and help support them in positive community activities," she said.

Asked about whether the riots could be repeated, she said: "We do not see that at the moment. I do not think we have got any evidence to suggest that would be the case but I think we were all taken by surprise by what happened last year. I think we always have to be alert to that possibility but there is no evidence that we have seen to suggest that is the case."

Ms Hindal was speaking after a news conference run by the Children's Society with young people affected by the riots. She said there were concerns over the "almost demonisation" of young people in the media following the disorder.

"We were very concerned about the way young people were being portrayed in the media, almost being demonised, if that is not too strong a word," she said.

One of the participants at the news conference, Beatrice Fowowe, 14, from Woolwich, south-east London, spoke of improvements to her area following the riots.

"I am from Woolwich and I know my area has developed a lot over the past year, it has become a really nice place, it is more like a tourist attraction now," she said. "It is really nice - things are getting better."

But she added that she believed that young people suffered from unfairly negative coverage in the media. "I feel that young people are portrayed in quite a negative way. When young people do positive things you don't seem to hear about them in the media. It is only negative things," she said.

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