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Witness
Gangsters Made Good
A relative's death leads one man to draw local youths away from UK gang culture.
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2010 10:02 GMT

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Producer: Ben Robinson

Stealing cars, dealing drugs, fighting your rivals with guns and knives - that is everyday life for some youth in Birmingham, a city in the UK midlands.

It is a far cry from the swanky hotels and designer shops of Birmingham's town centre just five miles away from the run-down district of Lozells, where unemployment is high and drug-dealing is commonplace. In Lozells and its bordering areas a life of crime is an all-too-easy and tempting alternative.

Reuben Tomlinkson has first-hand experience of the effects gang culture can have. His life was changed forever when he watched his much-loved cousin die in his arms after a violent shooting. Reuben could only watch in despair. But the trauma was enough to act as a wake-up call to him.

From then, he vowed to look for a more positive way through the tragedy.

Now a member of The Young Disciples, a group of local 20 and 30-year-olds who have experienced some of the worst aspects of life, Reuben has began initiating projects to encourage young people to make a fresh start.

Some of the best ways to get youth to avoid gang culture, he says, is through music and football.

"I'm letting the young people express themselves. Once that comes out of them we can then start to work on what's inside them," he says. "Because if we don't understand what they've got inside them, how can we do anything for those young people? So you've got to have that understanding."

Narrated by Sharren Sawyer, a fellow Young Disciple member, Gangsters Made Good shows another side of inner-city life in 21st century Britain.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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