London

London riots: Charles and Camilla hear victims' tales

  • 17 August 2011
  • From the section London
  • comments

The Prince of Wales has spoken about the "sheer terror" faced by people affected by the riots in London.

The prince and the Duchess of Cornwall have visited areas in London hit by recent violence and looting.

The royals began their tour of the capital in Tottenham and then went to Hackney, Lambeth and Croydon.

In Croydon he said he was pleased the Prince's Trust was able to get involved in helping young people escape gang culture.

The prince said many of the people whose homes and businesses were damaged by the riots still felt an unease about what was to come next.

'Cry for help'

But he said there were many "wonderful characters" doing fantastic work.

The prince spoke about the problem of gang culture, saying one way of tackling it was through building young people's self confidence and self esteem.

This echoed comments made earlier in the day in north London where he said the lack of extra curricular activities in schools was a problem.

The prince said: "I still think half the problem is that people join gangs because it is a cry for help, the fact they're looking for a framework, a sense of belonging, and a meaning.

"What's been so lacking is that sort of opportunity to allow people to be motivated and encouraged, and frankly exhausted because that's what you really want at that age."

Image caption The royal couple talked to youth ambassadors in Hackney

The prince also renewed calls for a national community service scheme for young people.

The royal couple's visit came as it was announced Tottenham and Croydon would get £20m from the government for repairs and to help kick-start their economies.

Charles and Camilla broke off their summer holiday in Scotland for the visit.

They first visited Tottenham Leisure Centre where donations, such as clothes, bedding and toys, for those made homeless through the violence have been collected.

Rioting broke out in the north London area on 6 August, following a demonstration over the police shooting of a local man, Mark Duggan, two days earlier.

The violence destroyed many shops and flats on the main road and left about 200 people homeless.

Among those to meet the royals was Barbara Bereda-Malik, 45, and her husband Omar Malik, 47, whose flat above the Carpetright store was completely destroyed in a huge blaze.

After meeting the prince, Mrs Bereda-Malik said: "It was really nice to see him and see they're concerned about our situation."

Mr Malik, a cab driver, said the council-coordinated support at the centre had been "amazing".

He added: "But at the end of the day we've got this trauma that we've been through. We are living in limbo now and it's very stressful."

Haley Jackson, a 23-year-old dance instructor, managed to shake hands with the prince as she and some friends delivered clothes, shoes and toiletries to the leisure centre.

She said: "It's not going to bring back their houses and everything they've lost, but it is recognition."

'People want change'

Youth worker Dymond Allen, 33, also greeted Prince Charles as he arrived, and said afterwards: "I think it's showing that there is some type of empathy there.

"But realistically I think the people want more change. They don't want to be sitting down talking, they want more action."

Earlier, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced the £20m fund to be shared between Tottenham and Croydon.

He said Mayor of London Boris Johnson would work with the boroughs to develop plans that may include redeveloping land for commercial use, improving transport infrastructure in Tottenham and establishing Croydon as a retail centre.

The money is in addition to £50m of recovery funding announced by the mayor last week to help areas hit by the disturbances.

The Prince's Trust said it was urging businesses to raise a further £1.5m to help young people in Manchester, Birmingham, Hackney, Tottenham and Croydon, who have been affected by the violence.

It has already raised £1m for the cause.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites