Thursday, 7 May 2009

Lambeth Council - "Check the label" campaign

In case you thought that the SE11 youths of Lambeth were a singular mass of menace and nuisance, 24dash reports that Lambeth Council have launched a campaign (named "check the label") to tell you otherwise. That means that if you see any scary looking people on posters, you can read the text next to their faces and be reassured that they just look scary, but are in fact fine, upstanding citizens. So that's alright then!

Less than 3% of Lambeth youth is (apparently) involved in crime (those would be the ones they've caught), so our local youth need Lambeth Council's backing to improve their image. I still wonder why these aspiring youth need to look as menacing as they appear to in the photographs. I'm presuming that all of this local area blogging is turning me into a social conservative, and that I've aged before my time, but really! Why aren't there any young smiling people? And more importantly, where are the black women with the "aspiring" labels on them? It may be that the selection of four photographs on the Young Lambeth website is not representative of the entire campaign and I know that one can't seek to represent everybody, but I think it's a question worth asking.

I didn't know about the existence of the Young Lambeth website until today, but it seems like a new initiative. Let's hope it doesn't go the sad sorry way of the Lambeth LGBT forum which doesn't seem to have had its meeting dates updated since 2007, has a defunct "discussion board" forum, a distinct lack of information in the Police Update Board section amd no up and coming events. What is our council tax being spent on?

This is terrible, I seem to be becoming the resident whinger of SE11.


lilys said...

I've read the campaign and it's all about changing people's perceptions. That seems to be the whole point. Yes, some young people are bad news but not all.

Just because young people look slightly 'scary' doesn't mean they are dangerous, worthless or indeed scary. And yes I do vaguely know one of the featured models, and he is essentially a great guy who got dealt a very rough life and is trying to change things around. I am presuming this campaign also has to appeal to a wide audience including people of a similar age to those who's lives are featured. Hence no 'smiling' clichéd youngsters...?

We need to give young people a chance. and not be so dismissive or cynical. If the only thing you got from this is awareness of a Young Lambeth site then that is something. I try to look on this whole thing as something positive otherwise what is the point?

Three wheeled one said...

Hi lilys,

Thanks for leaving a comment!

I agree that people can wear whatever they like, and I try not to judge by what they look like on the outside, but I don't think an advertising campaign will do that much to change the perception.

I understand the need to appeal to a wide audience, but I actually think that "check the label" should be about genuine diversity (not just youth, but old people as well), and not just about the people who look a bit threatening.

I agree that we need to give young people a chance. I'm totally in favour of giving young people a chance (what does that mean exactly?), but I wonder if this is a good use of the council tax payer's money. I'd rather see more money spent on improving the housing of the elderly (and on all of the Lambeth Council stock that is currently unfit) than I would on the "check the label" campaign.

Indeed, a good use of the money (if we're to focus on the young for a moment) would be on schools/youth clubs/community organisations that would promote integration of young and old at a local level, rather than on a comparatively cheap advertising campaign that does very little at grass roots level to encourage conversations to take place.

One of the reasons I run this blog is to enable a space for this kind of conversation. Occasionally, I am dismissive or cynical, but that's because I think councils like to appear to be doing "something" and that "something" is not the best thing to do.

If you have a youth group that you'd like to work on integrating and finding an interesting project locally, let me know as I've a couple of thoughts on the matter.

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