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Islington Tribune - by TOM FOOT
Published: 17 July 2009

John Lambert: ‘a working-class solution to a working-class problem’
The man with a mission... to prove that the kids are alright

In wake of stabbings, office manager quits job to stage events for teenagers

AN office manager from Barnsbury has quit his job to help “nurture” the next generation of teenagers following the recent series of knife murders in Islington.
John Lambert and his friend Andy Cracknell have set up a fundraising, not-for-profit organisation that has already caught the attention of actor Ray Winstone and film director David Parfitt.
The Kids Are Alright Foundation (KAAF) – which will stage football tournaments, theatrical events and street and estate parties in Islington – was launched in the wake of the murders of Martin Dinnegan, Nassirudeen Osawe and Ben Kinsella.
Big-name acts are supporting a launch event next weekend by playing for free at a music festival at the Forum in Kentish Town.
Mr Lambert said: “I am saying let’s have a working-class solution to a working-class problem. I am not interested in government. What do they know about the estates around here? Nothing. I’ve decided it’s up to us to sort this out and we are going to do it.”
He aims to boost the social skills of wayward teenagers.
After Ben Kinsella, a “straight As” student, was murdered in Holloway a year ago, the detective in the case, John MacDonald, said his three attackers had “a social inability to rationalise” and were “socially inept”.
Mr Lambert said: “We have produced a generation that has no social skills. It is the difference between the older and younger generations. For some reason, they are retreating behind our doors and curtains.” The 41-year-old believes feelgood community events – such as sport, parties and music – are the best way to restore collective spirit to isolated teenagers.
“When I was young there were always a few bad kids about, but the community kind of took them in,” he said. “Society can work as a surrogate parent. People want to help each other, believe me.
“I’m saying put a fiver in a week or whatever you can afford and we’ll have football, swimming, street parties for every race, creed and colour. We’ll show you the kids are alright – I promise you they are.”
One of Ben Kinsella’s killers, Jade Braithwaite, was a promising footballer in an Islington youth league. But when he was 14, the league ended and he soon fell into a life of violent crime.
Mr Lambert said: “That’s the moment the road Ben and Jade were on forked. Ben went one way, Jade went the other. You started with two good kids. And that’s our fault, mate.”
Comedian Phil Cornwell and reformed 80s punk bands From The Jam, The Blockheads and Eddie and the Hotrods are playing at the Forum next weekend (July 24 and 25).
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