Kids on the scrap heap

Sunday Sun
12 August 1979

The youth of Sunderland is being thrown on the scrap heap. Unemployment has sapped their energy, they are shattered and just hanging about miserable.

That is the picture gained by a BBC film crew which they will pass on to the nation via “Brass Tacks – Are the Kids All Right?” (BBC-2, Thursday, 8.05 pm).

A New-Wave group called The Rejected is featured heavily and programme researcher Ian McNulty said the lads in it were the only positive youngsters they met among the unemployed.

“Football used to be the way out of boredom and frustration for the youngsters, but now the heroes are Punk rock stars.

“The kids see a chance for a working class lad to make millions. They want to be rich, they want people to take notice of them,” said McNulty.

New Wave music has as much right to Government money as an art gallery, and McNulty said the Sunderland youngsters do not want squash courts and leisure complexes but some support for what is important in their lives – music.

The programme paints a grim picture and there are no stock answers. “We hope the programme and phone-in will prompt the people on the spot who live with the problems to come up with the answers.”

Sir Keith Joseph talks of incentives and the creation of more small businesses, but in the North-East the message does not seem to have got across, and there are 40 percent fewer small businesses than the national average.

“The area seems to have suffered a loss of confidence, and unemployment is on the tips of most people’s tongues.”

“The apathy is appalling, yet the youth should be full of energy and inspiration. The future of this country is going to depend on them.”

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