The recession could tip Britain towards riots and civil disorder unless voluntary organisations are handed extra resources, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears warned today.
Promising to come up with sustainable sources of funds by the summer, Ms Blears said the economic downturn could either drive communities apart or bring them closer together.
‘Economic recession has the power to do one of two things to a society,’ she told Community Service Volunteers (CSV) in the Edith Kahn Lecture.
‘It can either drive people apart, with an increase in distrust between individuals, more naked competition for jobs, and a fracturing of community spirit.
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‘We witnessed this in the 1980s and early 1990s, and at its most extreme, it culminated in cars and buildings burning on the streets of Brixton, Birmingham, and Liverpool.
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‘In some wards in my own city of Salford, we had 50 per cent male unemployment, and it has taken a decade to repair the damage.
‘Or economic recession can be the catalyst for communities to come together, for neighbours to construct new forms of collaboration, and for citizens to discover new reserves of courage and kindness.
‘Which end of this spectrum we tilt towards will depend on a decisive factor: the role of the government in valuing volunteering, in creating space for local action, and in promoting innovation and experimentation.’