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The shooting of 11-year old Rhys Jones has led to a serious examination of what's going wrong with British society. Rhys' mum and dad have said "the parents are to blame", but Barbara Panvel has a few ideas of her own.

Following the killing of young Rhys Jones various recommendations are being made, but as Welsh MP David Jones said last week: "Police can be given more powers and unacceptable behaviour contracts and ASBOs can be doled out, but until we address the structural problems within our society, I remain doubtful whether things will improve."

The main structural problem was described by writer and broadcaster Libby Purves eight years earlier: "Areas where industry and employment have collapsed suffer epidemic family stress and fracture.

"Unemployment is a way of life: it is hard for a 25 year old single mother who never worked and whose parents were jobless for years, to convey ambition and discipline to her own drifting ten-year olds.

"Post-war children of every class expected to get jobs and were expected to 'make themselves useful'. Earlier generations worked on the land or in factories. But many children now have no such assurance . . ."

Ms Purves said that we must demonstrate in action to the youngest and poorest the ideal of a decent society where everyone is needed and individuals flourish in co-operation.

What is being demonstrated to the youngest and poorest in Birmingham at present?

Conferences are held and reports published by organisations and quangos set up to address the city's problems, making little or no direct impression on the lives of those in need - but there are a few signs of hope from other quarters.

Nearly 3000 jobs have been created or preserved in Birmingham - enhancing the lives of many local families - by the Aston Reinvestment Fund.

The Prince's Fund has enabled many youngsters to set up businesses: one young man from Druids Heath was given a £500 grant to buy cooking equipment and started catering at festivals all over the country - later setting up and running his own café.

A few companies, such as British Gas, Cadbury and Lee Roofing in Cannock have reinstated apprenticeships and all manufacturing and construction companies should follow suit. The Shard End Community Build project offers an approach worth adapting in other areas.

Calls have been made for the return of the Birmingham Stock Exchange in its former Margaret Street premises, not as part of the global casino but for long-term investment in local companies.

Cllr Michael Wilkes has proposed the re-establishment of the Birmingham Municipal Bank in its original headquarters in Broad Street.

Thiswould offer fair and consistent rates to encourage saving, keeping money and jobs in the city and enable 'Brummie Bonds' to be issued, giving a secure return to ordinary folk who invest in public projects.

In their different ways these developments demonstrate - or would demonstrate - the emerging of a fairer, more inclusive society. As Libby Purves pointed out: "a child needs to believe that there is a future to be won".

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