The council has awarded a £4,500 grant to Wandsworth Mediation Service to train 15 residents community cohesion and conflict resolution skills.
Wandsworth Council has awarded a £4,500 grant to Battersea-based Wandsworth Mediation Service so the charity can train 15 residents in the skills of community cohesion and conflict resolution.
Volunteers for the charity work closely with local housing associations and police to intervene in residential disputes and encourage peaceful solutions.
This follows long speculation over the likely causes of last summer’s riots, which saw looting and property damage in the Clapham Junction area of the borough.
Thanking the council for awarding the service its first ever grant, manager Joanna Price said: “While many of us in our local communities spend time complaining about the problems that led to the summer riots, these 15 people have decided to do something positive to benefit their neighbourhoods.”
Leader of the council, Councillor Ravi Govindia, said: “It is fantastic to see so many volunteers being trained with this grant money – and I hope their commitment will inspire others to stand up and contribute to making the areas they live even better.”
The grant was awarded from the Wandsworth Big Society Fund, which offers funding of up to £5,000 to projects encouraging community inclusion and cohesion.
Critics and members of the Opposition are sceptical that Big Society projects can resolve the complex root causes of last year’s riots.
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, said her Camberwell and Peckham constituents identified three things that would make riots less likely in the future: more youth services, lower unemployment and more police.
“The irony is that, as a result of government action, that is precisely the opposite of what is happening.”
Reading the Riots, an interview study of 270 rioters carried out by the London School of Economics (LSE) and The Guardian newspaper, reported: “When asked if they felt ‘part of British society’, only 51 per cent of those interviewed said they agree with the statement.
“This compares with 92 per cent of the population as a whole.”
As part of its £55 million savings package, Wandsworth Council has cut spending on the borough’s Youth Opportunities Fund from £91,000 to £60,000, a saving of more than a third on last year.
A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which has its headquarters in Clapham Junction, said: “Kind hearts and good intentions are no substitute for properly funded and well resourced public services that provide long-term support to help our communities to thrive and local economies to grow.”
For more information about community mediation, or to volunteer with the service, visit www.wandsworthmediation.co.uk.