Meet Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Ilford community champions

Published:
12:10 16 November 2021



Youth workers in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Ilford have been praised as community masters for helping young people in London.

London Youth has been based in Hackney for 130 years on the border with Islington on Pitfield Street. The organization held an event during the Youth Work Week on 5 November.

The event celebrated five London youth workers who fought for them as unsung heroes in the capital’s community.

Momtaz Ajid was one of five who “stumbled into youth work” after growing up on a property in east London.


Young people speak at the London Youth Event

Kalliyah and Elena, who are members of London Youth’s youth board, speak at the event
– Credit: Kid Circus

She has worked for Leaders In Community, a Tower Hamlet charity run by active local young people in the area, for 15 years.

Momtaz said: “After I finished my education, I struggled with low self-esteem, and getting into youth work totally changed that. It was important for me to give back to the community and support others from a Bangladeshi background in the community.

“I wanted to do something a little different and not want to do the same thing that had been done before. That was where Leaders In Community came from.”

The youth worker says that it is important to ensure that the young people have a say in their local area.

But despite the important work youth workers are doing in their communities, London Youth said on October 29 that the chancellor’s 2021 budget and spending review gave the youth sector no “reason for optimism”.

The organization’s initial response was concerned that the Treasury, which pledged £ 368 million in new funds to build 300 youth clubs, did not actually provide the sector with new funding but “re-announced funds from the £ 500 million youth investment fund announced in 2019.

The London Youth’s preliminary statement read: “If the Chancellor commits new funds to up to 300 new youth clubs, this is positive, but it will do nothing to restore pride in the hundreds of youth clubs in decline that many young people are calling home.

“So many of London Youth’s grassroots community-based members are safe spaces and trusted lifelines for young people in need. They are currently starving for investment and desperately need unlimited funds to keep their doors open.”

London Youth member Irfan Shah tweeted: ” [The] Funding does not go together and [is] certainly does not go up in level. “Based on the number of young people growing up in poor areas alone, £ 560 million over three years – you do not really understand it, you actually have no pride.”

Irfan is the manager of Frenford clubs and a senior youth worker at Frenford in Ilford. He was also recognized as the community champion for the Youth Work Week.


Irfan Shah, Head of Frenford Clubs and Lead Youth Worker at Frenford in Iford.

Irfan Shah, Head of Frenford Clubs and Lead Youth Worker at Frenford in Iford
– Credit: Francis Augusto

On working for the club for 17 years, he said: “Helping young people through difficult times is a challenge, but that’s what we do. Making the small changes, even the slightest impact, gives us joy.”

Kyarna Morris, a youth drama assistant at Hackney’s Immediate Theater, was also praised for the youth work she performs.


Kyarna Morris, Youth Drama Assistant at Hackney's Immediate Theater

Kyarna Morris, Youth Drama Assistant at Hackney’s Immediate Theater
– Credit: Francis Augusto

She said the Immediate Theater gave her a community space when she was a teenager, so she started volunteering.

Kyarna said: “Youth work is the best way to engage young people. When I was young, I felt rejected and neglected by society. I felt that growing up is a scam, paying for uni is a scam, that “adult” is the worst thing ever. When I got involved in Immediate’s summer programs, I felt like I could reach the stars. “

In response to London Youth’s concerns about public youth services, digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) spokesman said: “We are determined to give every child the best start in life and increase opportunities across the country.

“In the budget, the Chancellor announced plans to invest £ 560 million to ensure that youth services receive the support they need, and this includes funding the construction or renovation of up to 300 youth facilities in the most deprived areas of the country.

“We also confirmed a £ 500 million extension of our schemes to help young people find new opportunities and better paid jobs, over £ 200 million to continue the holiday and food program and a further £ 1.8 billion to support schools recovering from the pandemic and helping the most disadvantaged students – bringing the total funding dedicated to student healing to almost £ 5 billion. ”


Youth London event 2021

(From left) London Youths Chairman Stephen Moss CBE, Director of Philanthropy at CVC Kate Butchart, CEO of London Youth Rosemary Watt-Wyness and London Youth President Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE
– Credit: Kid Circus

Details of the government’s disbursement of youth investments will be elaborated over time.

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