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17 September, 2007

Major Success for new Youth Act! groups in Brent

In May 2007, Youth Act recruited and trained groups of young people in Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham. The OK Club and Alperton School have since made major advances in their campaigns including securing £16,000 to support arts training for the Wembley community.

Alperton Community School

In under 6 months, young campaigners at Alperton Community School have secured £16,000 in funding towards building a building a permanent art gallery and Children’s centre in Wembley, North London. Following training with Youth Act in May 2007, the group identified a distinct need to improve the employability of people in Brent, particularly young people. The group felt that one way to address this would be to run art and skills sessions at their school for students and the wider community offering a range of art courses in clay, painting and photography.

“In the Youth Act training sessions two of the biggest questions we had to look at were: What are the needs of people in our community? And How can we add value to our community? This got us thinking about how we could help other people to develop new skills and the lack of art sessions for people in our community.” The campaign group explained.

The first step in setting up the classes involved gaining the commitment of art teachers and volunteers to deliver sessions for the group. As the sessions gained in momentum and popularity, the group identified the need to not only recruit experts in a wider range of arts subjects but also the need for a permanent space to exhibit and promote the work produced in the sessions. Recognising the success and commitment of the students to the project, teachers and members of the school’s senior management team invited the students to present their proposal for creating an art gallery to senior managers and architects at the school. At the same time, the students began approaching funders to support the art sessions.

Eileen Sabur, Millenium Volunteers co-ordinator at the school and the group’s Supportive Adult said:

“It is very encouraging to see young people tapping into the avenues and using the resources that you learn normally as an adult are necessary to use in order to get a project going. They have learnt so much in one year: planning, managing complex budgets, networking with decision makers and presenting proposals. They have developed a lot of confidence as the project has moved along and they have this fantastic “Can Do!” attitude.”

The schools’ senior managers have since agreed to the construction of a permanent gallery and the young campaigners are working closely with architects to further building plans. The group are now continuing to approach funders to raise a further £53,000 to build the gallery and reach their ultimate aim of establishing themselves as a Not for Profit Organisation.

In addition, the group are completeing Youth Action awards as accreditation for their work and to further their learning some of the group participated in a three day politics course at Queen Mary University to further their understanding of political processes.

The OK Club Investigate Relationships between Young People and the Police

Young people from the OK Club, Kilburn, North London trained with Youth Act in May 2007. They have since devised a campaign to improve relations between young people and the police in Brent.

The OK Club is based in Wembley where the police have a dispersal order policy meaning that any group of three or more young people found together after 9pm can potentially be broken up by the police. As a result, the feeling amongst many young people in the area is that there is a high amount of tension and misunderstanding between young people and the police.

The first step that the group took in looking at relations between young people and the police involved running a survey in their local community entitled: “Do you feel that young people are treated differently to adults by the police?” They also met with local police to come up with appropriate ways of developing understanding and more positive relationships between the two groups. One such way, they feel, is to organising sporting activities bringing young people and the police together.

“Supporting the young people I work with through the Youth Act training and bringing their ideas to improve relations between young people and the police, has been a great learning experience for both them and me. They have some strong ideas and their plans are starting to take shape. I’m looking forward to seeing them take the sporting activities and their ideas forward.” Jay, the group’s youth worker explained.

In November 2007 the group will organise a football match bringing young people and the police together socially to get to know one another and finally, in December 2007, the campaign group plan to run training sessions for the police on how to improve their communication and dealing with young people.


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