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27 October, 2006

NEW round of Youth Act! looks at community cohesion and youth provision

Two new groups are currently taking part in Youth Act! London, the Citizenship Foundation programme for groups of young people, working with adults, who want to achieve political or social change in their school, youth club or community.

Skinners school in Hackney and Warwick school for Boys in Waltham Forest have both enjoyed several training sessions and have just completed the residential part of the programme.

Warwick School for boys’ campaign ‘Understood’ has grown out of the tension they feel in their community towards Muslims after 7/7 and the recent terror arrests. They are focussing on community cohesion and developing understanding of different religions and cultures in Waltham Forest.

Speaking about their aims, a participant said “Walthamstow is a very diverse area, there are many religions and cultures but it never feels like we are mixing as one when we are in the community. We want to tackle the fact that communities exist separately with very little interaction between the faiths and build real diversity in the borough. This is really important for the community especially as the Olympics are coming as it will show the world what real multiculturalism is. We are trying to break down stereotypes and paranoia and one way we’re trying to do this is by reaching the younger people first, like year 5 and year 6 primary school children”.

‘Understood’ will be organising an exhibition at the Town Hall to celebrate the diversity of faith in Waltham Forest; taking plays to primary schools to challenge stereotypes of different faiths and protesting against the media’s portrayal of various issues to do with faith in the borough.

The group from Skinners are developing a local campaign to tackle the issue of young people hanging about on the streets, with nowhere to go and nothing to do. They are looking into youth facilities in Hackney and in particular address what they see as postcode warfare in the area. A participant explained: ”It is difficult for young people to access services in the borough because there is a postcode issue – ie if you are from E5 then you can’t go to N16. We have decided to launch a campaign called “What’s in a postcode?” and will be making t-shirts posters and leaflets.”

They hope to host an event in Finsbury Park next year for young people from all over the borough to support the campaign and also to find out about current services for young people.

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