The Bishop of Chelmsford appeared in these pages bemoaning the youth of today’s lack of familiarity with his religion; around the same time figures were released showing that violent crime is rapidly decreasing across the country, proving that there is no relationship whatsoever between Bible Studies and ethical behaviour. However it may well be that other, equally serious sins – such as the worship of graven images or the coveting of one’s neighbour’s ass – are on the rise: what can we as a community do to stop this slide into immorality? My suggestion would be to close all the local youth-clubs immediately: this tactic is already working in the case of Focus, as a number of groups that previously met there have had to relocate to churches which are of course happy to take money in exchange for the use of their church-halls. In this way we can redistribute social funds to Christians while placing youths in an environment where they may be reacquainted with archaic gibberish and threats of damnation.
[Focus Youth Centre was built, just off Southend High Street, in 1966: it was a constant figure throughout my childhood, judo and karate there on black jigsaw mats in the large sport’s-hall, football too and basketball and roller-skating, or dancing & hanging-out & playing pool & arcade-games in the youth-club on Fridays and Saturdays; upstairs there was a theatre, in my teens as part of Focus Youth Theatre I went there weekly to develop and then perform plays, the resources were excellent, from the sloping auditorium to the backstage changing-rooms to the little room at the very top of Focus where people would mingle or get drinks at the bar before the show or during the interval; more recently I found myself back at Focus in my role as a youth-worker, a number of our projects took place here: when the Motivate The Estate/Youth At Risk team wanted to hold outreach meetings for local kids we mostly used Focus; I and other people working with young offenders would often bring them here to e.g. use the kitchen facilities for cooking; and the group I currently work with, providing activities for local Roma kids and English-lessons for their parents, has been meeting at Focus. But, four years after the Con-Dem government took power, Focus Youth Centre stands gutted and will be demolished within the next few months.]