If I ruled the world: Jenny Agutter

Joy Persaud

Actress Jenny Agutter OBE, 65, is known for her roles in The Railway Children, Call the Midwife and Logan’s Run

I’d have various counsellors

The whole premise of my world would be that of shared responsibility. I’d have counsellors like Sir David Attenborough, who has created such empathy for the world we live in through his programmes.

 

I would get back to real communities

Communities have become very disparate. We seem to be ruled by a centre that’s outside ourselves, as opposed to relying on the community we’re living in. My husband and I visited Tobago and one thing we’ve noticed is that every town has a harvest festival. The people in each village gather to celebrate and have a meal—it’s all about sharing.

I would get rid of exams

Exams are solitary things that test how much you know but the point of school would be problem-solving and working with other children. So many kids come out of school with masses of information but don’t know what they want to do or what they really enjoy.

 

I’d prioritise studying music, drama, and sport

When children work together in drama, they’re not only studying the literature, they’re looking at emotions and learning how to communicate. That also happens in music because if you’re learning an instrument, you learn to play with other people.

 

I would eradicate homelessness

Families can break down for all sorts of reasons. Whatever it is, sometimes people just need support from people outside, which is why I work for Action for Children. The youth homelessness project works with homeless young people and we help them through the things that family normally would such as form filling and getting a job.

 

We’ve got to make the NHS work

We’re hugely privileged to have it and we’ve got to pay whatever taxes required to ensure the money is there. Educators and health workers should be celebrated and paid the most in our society, because we need them.

 

I would open up places of worship

Places of worship should be used by people who have faith, but they should also be open to the community and become centres of thought. Instead of saying, “this is our religion and it’s separate from everybody else,” they would invite other people and denominations in so that people can understand each other better.

 

I’d arrange more for young people to do

When I was young, there were clubs, dances and sports events but [now] people are disengaged. I’d love to bring back the idea of the community centre so kids are able to do other things aside from being on the streets.

 

I would reverse the trend for smart phones

I wish when they were developed it had been made very clear that “this is an adult toy”.

 

Jenny Agutter is helping Action for Children support vulnerable young people at risk of homelessness. If you can help too, text BYTE18 £5 (or the amount you wish to donate) to 70070. For more information visit bytenight.org.uk