Knowing who your next door neighbour is according to Marcia Cappiello


What is our community going to do? Why don’t we know our next-door neighbour? Have we forgotten how to engage in healthy conversations?

In saying “hello” and asking how someone is, we can find out how people are coping.

It can be shocking to discover well-hidden secrets such as friends in unhappy marriages, professionals who are victims of domestic abuse, work colleagues whose lives dramatically end in suicide, the sadness in some who have learned how to cultivate a well-hidden drug habit.

Others who have gone on to have significant mental health problems.

The rich and famous are not excluded from experiencing highs and lows despite having luxurious lifestyles.

We thought some of our young people were balanced and happy individuals.

We soon learn that they have gone on to join cults or signed up for membership to the Islamic State.

They find there, a true sense of belonging while looking for utopia.

They are groomed into a life that offers political excitement. This tragically ends in the loss of their own lives, their best friends and their children.

One, Shamima Begum in 2015, aged 15, ran off to join the Islamic State and four years later leaves behind her a trail of devastation, sadness and loss.

Shamima Begum

There are some vulnerable young people, children with learning difficulties and mental health problems who go on to commit heinous newsworthy crimes.

Ali Sonboly was a teenage killer who shot nine young people in Munich, Germany in 2016.

This was an apparent revenge attack for being bullied – he was described as a “depressed loner”.

I know this is not everyone’s story.

It is, however, important to recognise some of the contributing factors to why so many of our young people seem sadly disillusioned.

It is disappointing that punitive measures such as imprisonment only teach some young people how to pursue a criminal career path.

Prison life can be comfortable and pleasant but hardly a deterrent from a life of crime.

It is perfectly acceptable to indulge in what has now become a consumer-ridden society.

We gladly ignore our neighbour, preferring instead to watch others watching television such as Gogglebox.

In the competitive chase for more wealth and the latest in gadgets, we have become
extremely selfish and uncreative individuals.

There must be better life-fulfilling tasks that we can participate in while also involving our children.

The reality is that many who suffer from drug addictions, alcoholism and mental health problems are sad, lonely individuals.

Their sense of family and community has completely broken down. It is, however, possible for us to change this.

I was horrified to see how life continued as normal in Dulwich within days of yet another fatal stabbing.

We have become comatose to the problem instead of being instigators for change.
The Mayor of London is ambitious but faces further criticism as knife crime continues to increase.

We seem to face a sense of compliant apathy instead of outrage at how children and young people are dying.

They feel the need to carry weapons in order to protect themselves from being stabbed.

What saddens and angers me further is that we have allowed our children, who are filled with fear, to instil even more fear into the adults around them.

We have now been silenced and are not taking decisive action.

We are failing to offer guidance, by not asserting our adult and protective voices to look after our own children. They appear very clearly to be lost and looking for answers.

Please now add your voice to mine. We are lobbying our MP in Dulwich, wanting people to come together to say no more to knife and gun crime.

Do not wait until you are personally affected as this affects all of us and must stop NOW.

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