'Everybody suffers if kids aren't happy': Newham youth workers on front line in battle to keep youngsters off streets
PUBLISHED: 13:00 05 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:28 07 August 2018
The schools might be out for summer but the hard work keeping youngsters off the streets doesn't stop.
And there is a quiet army of people offering an alternative to the streets.
Dave Mann from Bonny Downs Community Association – running summer activities from the Bobby Moore Sports Pavilion in Flanders Playing Fields, East Ham – said crime used to rise in the holidays but had fallen thanks to youth work.
“It’s vital we provide kids activities because they will find things to do which won’t be as helpful for themselves or locals. Everybody suffers if kids aren’t happy,” he said.
And youngsters are helping themselves too as 17-year-old youth leader Paris Tankard proves.
“I enjoy coming here. Almost my whole life it’s been giving me something to look forward to every summer,” Paris said.
Paula Blake – of Canning Town youth club Ambition, Aspire, Achieve in Hermit Road Park – manages volunteers supporting up to 500 of the borough’s most vulnerable including children with special needs or excluded from school.
Asked what would happen without the centre, Ms Blake said: “Some [children] would be hanging around the streets. Those with special needs would be stuck indoors. It’s important we keep the community engaged.”
And the stakes are high with concerns about rising crime and violence.
Qualified plumber Steve Allgood started working with youngsters in Britannia Village, West Silvertown, about ten years ago.
“Britannia Village had Newham’s highest crime rate. Our aim was to get to know the ringleaders and stop them,” Mr Allgood said.
When the team arrived, Mr Allgood – based at Britannia Village Hall in Evelyn Road – estimated there were about 40 young law-breakers. Now there are just a handful, he said.
“Many times I was thrown over tables, but they came round to our thinking. We’re like one big family now,” Mr Allgood said.
But changing young lives doesn’t happen without funding which project Newham Giving directs to good causes.
Donors include Northern Trust, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, TD Securities, Tate and Lyle Sugars/ASR Group, Get Living London, Euromix and PaddyPower/Betfair.
This year Newham Giving has awarded £104,399 to local school holiday projects.
Newham Giving fundraising manager Kyrsten Perry said: “Supporting summer holiday youth projects is critical as there is a growing need. These projects have such a positive impact on our youth.”
To help with fundraising call Kyrsten on 020 7345 4551 or email Kyrsten.Perry@eastendcf.org