Ms Maffia takes on the ministers

26th March 2004 at 00:00
She is a best-selling garage star, with a famously urban style and a gritty estate background. But Lisa Maffia, former member of So Solid Crew, insists that she has no understanding of the life that teenagers today live.

"I come from the same estates as they do," the 24-year-old said. "I had a child at 18. But I'm not a youth any more. I'm not living their lives.

Everyone is an individual."

And if the singer who won a Mobo award for the best garage act last year, and who makes a living from her youth appeal, is out-of-touch, she insists that it is even more true of education ministers, whose day jobs do not require a working knowledge of the urban street vibe.

If there is to be any improvement in the schools of south London, where she grew up, she says, the Government needs to accept its ignorance.

"They need to be more in touch with what is going on. They shouldn't just judge people by their crimes or their race or their area. They need to get involved. They should go out there, visit the schools and talk to the children."

Only by speaking at length to these children, she believes, will adults fully understand the impact of deprived inner-city schools upon the wider community.

"There are lots of kids out there with creative skills. But they're bored, because they have no art, music or sports facilities.

"They can't express what they want to do, and that's when the trouble starts. They turn to crime, because there's nothing else to do."

To show her conviction, Ms Maffia will attend a one-off concert on Monday, organised by the London Roundhouse theatre, designed to showcase the vocal talents of pupils from six inner-London secondaries.

She said: "It's not just a bunch of school choirs. This is just the beginning for these people. It will give them ideas of what they can do.

I'm spreading the word of what I've done in my life, by working hard.

"These people can also make it out. They can make a career. There's a great future for every individual out there."

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