Cut Short by Ciaran Thapar review – at the sharp end of austerity

A London youth worker condemns the marginalisation of young black men in a powerful study of the boys whose lives are blighted by violence

In September 2015, Ciaran Thapar, a recent graduate of the London School of Economics (where he did a master’s in political theory), and his flatmate, Rory Bradshaw, turned up at a community centre in Brixton. The area’s gentrification was well under way by then and the two of them had moved into a flat across the park from the club, where they wished to volunteer as youth workers. In Cut Short: Youth Violence, Loss and Hope in the City, Thapar describes how the centre’s managing director, Tony, took one look at them both in the foyer and said: “The boys here are gonna think you’re feds.”

Tony, writes Thapar, was doubtful about letting these fresh-faced new arrivals work in his centre. “The young people who spent time at [the club] were used to a certain type of adult male working there. [They were usually] black, older, more experienced. Maybe they had several decades under their belt as a youth worker. Maybe they’d grown up nearby.”

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