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Lord Coe opens charity's UEL office

PUBLISHED: 14:07 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:07 11 March 2019

Lord Coe cuts the ribbon as Geoff Thompson, Baroness Lawrence and Prof Amanda Broderick (far left) look on. Picture: UEL

Lord Coe cuts the ribbon as Geoff Thompson, Baroness Lawrence and Prof Amanda Broderick (far left) look on. Picture: UEL

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Lord Sebastian Coe has officially opened the new headquarters of a charity aiming to turn youngsters away from crime.

Lord Coe and Geoff Thompson hold a portrait of the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Picture: UELLord Coe and Geoff Thompson hold a portrait of the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Picture: UEL

The president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cut the ribbon at the Youth Charter charity based at the University of East London’s (UEL) Stratford campus in Water Lane on Thursday.

Lord Coe said: “The most powerful social worker is sport. We know that sport organisations create an anchor in young people and offer many more opportunities.”

UEL and Youth Charter are pioneering a social coach leadership project training existing youth professionals and role models to deliver sports, arts and activities for young people aged 10 to 19.

Youth Charter chairman, Geoff Thompson, said: “We aim to tackle educational non-attainment, health inequality, anti-social behaviour and the negative effects of crime, drugs, gang related activity and racism by applying the ethics of sporting and artistic excellence.

“We are confident our new programme will help save lives. I believe our social coaches can reduce crime a lot quicker than ‘stop and searches’ by the police.”

The UN-accredited charity set up by Mr Thompson 26 years ago after the shooting of a 14-year-old boy in Manchester will be based at aUEL office named after British fencer, Dame Mary Alison Glen Haig.

Dame Mary, who competed in four Olympic games in 1948, 1952, 1956 and 1960 in the women’s individual foil events, was the founding trustee of the Youth Charter and served as chair of trustees, going on to become president for 23 years.

Lord Coe said: “The Youth Charter and UEL have created the biggest social coaches leadership programme in the UK, which will help save lives on the streets.”

Following the official opening, portraits of Dame Mary and the late five-minute mile athlete, Diane Leather Charles, were unveiled by Lord Coe in the university’s Great Hall.

Special guests also included Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon a social justice activist whose son Stephen was murdered in a racist attack.

Speakers also included Shanea Oldham, a sixth-former at St Bonaventures School in Forest Gate, and engineering apprentice Elijah Sserunjogi who lost friends to street crime.

Shanea said: “I’d like to see more young people’s voices heard and greater understanding of our culture. The Youth Charter will definitely help me to be better at effecting change.”

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