My week: Patrick Regan

The chief executive of Christian youth charity XLP takes to the stage at the Tory conference.


I have been asked to speak on the main stage at the Conservative Party conference about the issues facing young people in inner cities. I was invited by the Centre for Social Justice, because XLP is a grass-roots organisation working with people the Conservatives are aiming their new policies at. I soon realise that I am one of the very few not wearing a suit.

I'm quite used to speaking to large groups of people, so nerves weren't too much of an issue, but it felt strange speaking to an audience with no young people in it.

I tell the conference I don't think we are doing enough for 11 to 14-year-olds, who right now are picking up knives and wearing bullet-proof vests under their school uniforms. These kids aren't all criminals. They need help with their anger - many of them don't have positive role models because they come from very complex family situations.


I attend a meeting about the findings of Breakdown Britain, the Centre for Social Justice report on poverty in the UK. I was very sceptical before I read the report, but ended up being very impressed.

Before I go to a fringe meeting about gang crime, I meet Richard Taylor, father of Damilola Taylor, the young boy who was murdered in Peckham just down the road from where I used to live. When I meet people who have lost kids to violence, I never know what to say. The evening goes well and everyone speaks with passion about problems and possible solutions.


The past couple of days have been interesting and we've had a great response from people. I think we helped them get past the statistics and see a bit of reality in what was being talked about. The conference was great, but now I'm knackered. My mind is thinking about the countless emails I will be going back to and a tour we are running next week called Gunz Down, which is an hour-long show exploring the issue of gun and knife crime.


I have a talk to prepare for a large church on Sunday. I have decided to speak about the issues people are facing in our communities and, I hope, challenge people to get involved. Unless these issues affect us directly, we often don't get involved. That's not good enough. Whatever you own, you take responsibility for - if something is wrong with my car, I have to get it fixed. We need to own our communities and, if there are issues in our community, we need to help fix them. Not sure how that will go down on a Sunday morning - oh well!

XLP works on estates and in secondary schools in south-east London.

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