Editor’s comment: The difficulty of reporting good news

Ben Kinsella's parents George and Debbie, Gazette editor Ramzy Alwakeel, then-mayor Cllr Una O'Hallo

Ben Kinsella's parents George and Debbie, Gazette editor Ramzy Alwakeel, then-mayor Cllr Una O'Halloran and council leader Cllr Richard Watts with winners at last year's event. Picture: Em Fitzgerald - Credit: Archant

This is the fourth year I’ve been involved in the Mayor’s Civic Awards, and I don’t think I’ve previously seen so many people being nominated and awarded for their work against youth violence.

On one hand it’s good to see lots of different communities and people in Islington working together to keep kids safe from crime – both from being victims of it and from falling into criminal activity – but it’s also sad that so much energy has to go into it in the first place.

There are very important conversations to be had about the impact of austerity, housing poverty, education budgets, youth facilities and capitalism on young people, but the government isn’t likely to change tomorrow and in the meantime these are people who have said: this is how I can make a difference right now in my community.

That, of course, is what the Kinsellas said when they founded the trust in Ben’s memory.

We worked with Brooke and the Ben Kinsella Trust on the 10th anniversary of Ben’s murder last year and seeing all the young faces who have died in knife attacks since then – we listed all 27 of them in one place – was so sad and made us feel so powerless.

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But you can never know how many lives have been saved and transformed through work like theirs, and through the work that is done by tonight’s winners.

Bad news makes front pages and that’s a cliché that we try to fight against – but one reason it’s hard to do that is simply that good news is often a process, not an event.

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It’s easy to know how and when to report that someone has been killed, but how do you report that they haven’t? How do you know when a life has been saved? The fact is you don’t.

That’s why it’s so important for us to recognise and honour the good work that takes place for everyone in Islington by volunteers and community heroes like these.

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