Mayor of Newham: 'Supporting young people after tragedies'

Fares Maatou and Abubakkar Jah

Left: Fares Maatou was fatally stabbed in Canning Town on April 23. Right: Abubakkar Jah, who was also known as Junior, died in Custom House on April 26. - Credit: Met Police

Newham has suffered terrible tragedies in the past few weeks.

As a community, we have witnessed the devastating killing of two young people, and I know how deeply this has affected the grieving families who I have met and it pains me that they have had to go through this.

This is my community where I have grown up, and I want the senseless violence that is harming our young people to stop. I want all our residents to know that we are working with our local police to make sure they are visible in our neighbourhoods and that they are doing all they can to make Newham safe.

I also want residents to know that Newham is a place that offers so much for our young people and it is getting better through all the changes and investments we are making to improve lives and provide hope.

At the weekend, the residents of Newham voted to retain the model of elected mayor. I see this as confidence in what I have achieved so far as your elected mayor, but I want to be clear that there is much more we need to do to bring more improvements.

Newham Mayor Rohksana Fiaz. Picture: Ken Mears

Newham's mayor Rokhsana Fiaz. - Credit: Archant

I want to ensure that Newham Council delivers on affordable housing, protects our most vulnerable and ensures opportunities for all our young people in the borough. We must show our young people that we are here to support them, and that violence is not an option.

We will do this by continuing to invest in our young people and provide opportunities through a raft of programmes, and by working with the community so that all of us step up and bring about changes in our neighbourhoods.

We care for our young people and want the best for them, and that is why in the coming weeks I will be announcing a series of community discussions about how you can get involved.

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We have already put in place a raft of new initiatives through our youth empowerment division, which in the past year has already provided more than 900 activities to support young people’s physical and mental wellbeing, to develop their skills and to keep them healthy.

We launched the Youth Empowerment Fund providing £1 million of grants to enable our youngsters to follow their dreams and reach their potential. Our Youth Zones have remained open and through the work of our Youth Safety Board, we have set a clear action plan to ensure the council is doing everything it can, working with partners, to support our young people most at risk of exploitation and harm.

Our young people have demonstrated their brilliance through volunteering during lockdown via our Help Newham hubs and our Newham Food Alliance programme that distributes food to our most vulnerable households.

Some 200 young people have also signed up to the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards scheme in the borough and we are working with schools, voluntary organisations and community groups to coordinate positive enrichment programmes for our young people.

So we are working hard with our young people, have action plans to help our most at risk, provide support and expand opportunities because I want Newham to be the best place for them to grow and thrive.

As someone who grew up in Newham, where I went to school and which is the place I love and call home, I will always be focused on delivering the best for our young people and all Newham residents as your mayor.

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