Thursday 14 November 2013, 12:25
I’m fairly street. Well, I think I am? I definitely used to be! You have to be fairly street-smart to get by where I’m from.
I was raised in East London where drugs and crime surrounded my childhood. Our family home has been burgled seven or eight times, cars broken into and I’ve got a collection of stories about physical and verbal abuse we got on the streets. The people behind all this were young guys… in their teens! Why didn’t I get involved in that crime? I was lucky I guess. I wanted to be different. I joined a basketball club, acted in local drama productions and got into DJing. All of which led me to want to do a degree. But, what if you didn’t have anything else to take you away from bad company? That’s where the London Tigers come in.
I went down to hang out with them one evening. They’re a group dedicated to helping young adults and teenagers from underprivileged areas stay away from crime and drugs on the street. Surprisingly, they’re based in one the most underprivileged areas in the capital: Westminster. It doesn’t sound very “underprivileged” as it’s known to be one of the poshest areas in London! However, we shouldn’t be fooled by what we know about an area, we need to look into what we don’t know about the youth in these areas.
I watched a brilliant film they had made about the dangers of street crime and gangs
Mez, the CEO and founder of the London Tigers was the first to fill me in on the work they do, the challenges they face and his entrepreneurial approach to developing the charity. His office at the community centre is filled with football trophies. It was the love for the great game which brought the kids together. The standard is now so high that the London Tigers have a semi-professional team and are looking into developing their own stadium.
All this came from a charity who were helping young people stay out of trouble. They give them somewhere to come and feel safe, be respected and even somewhere to do their homework. When there, they are supported by inspirational figures such as Jawar (the community centre Project worker) who’s passion and love for the guys is obvious. Jawar told me that the young guys who attend need to feel safe, have fun, get advice and support and make new friends. They can get involved with making their own drama plays, dance productions, even film and edit these too. Jawar’s post is funded by Children In Need and the work he does saves lives, builds futures and creates a fun filled youth. How can you put a price on that?
Here's me with the centre's street dance crew
Hearing stories from the young guys and realising how different life would be for them if they didn’t have this time with the London Tigers is just shocking. In the centre of London, postcode gangs are rife. These young teens are easy prey for bad company and start a life of crime, that can lead to prison or death.
The funny thing is, these youngsters aint “bad boys” or “wannabe gangsters”… they’re incredibly sweet, kind hearted and welcoming individuals who live in an area which wants to kill their potential and takeaway their opportunities. Without the money from Children In Need, Jawar’s post could not be funded. Without his essential work, the young guys would not have anyone to turn to and no doubt fall into the street world.
The London Tigers have expanded to Southhall and Ilford to tap into communities of Asians, Somalians and other minority groups who need a help to stay out of trouble. Their doors are open to anyone.
By donating to Children In Need, you support groups like the London Tigers, that take young lads and put their minds to use. For a few pounds, we can all help to inspire a young mind and help make our local area safer.
Wednesday 13 November 2013, 12:08
Friday 15 November 2013, 22:34