Why Summaya Abbas started her Life Skills Sessions for youths

Olivia Devereux-Evans meets the youth worker turning a passion for football into academic success

Summaya Abbas wants academic support to be available to young people of all backgrounds. That’s why she’s been running Study Support and Life Skills Sessions for nearly three months. Her enterprise offers academic help and life skills lessons to youngsters.

Explaining the idea behind her business, Summaya told the Echo: “During the Covid period, I went to a fitness session by a local community action group in Walthamstow called Salaam Peace. There were a group of really young boys who were all playing football.

“They could really do with academic support, because a lot of these boys do not have computers at home, where they could do their online learning from – but you could see their passion for football. I could only imagine if they had the support in academia how some of them could shine. That was the light bulb moment.”

Salaam Peace is a project using sport and social education to bring people from diverse backgrounds together. Study Support and Life Skills sessions runs in collaboration with the social action group, supporting two groups of twelve boys. Salaam Peace runs football games, then two Study Sup- port and Life Skills Sessions run each weekend at CRATE St James Street.

The most recent workshop is all about presentation skills. The boys are given three weeks to prepare a presentation to showcase to their peers, to help boost their confidence. In the session, the youngsters also receive help with their school work from Summaya and a colleague who works for Salaam Peace.

Lessons occur in person each weekend with sessions spread across two rooms to allow for social distancing. Study Support and Life Skills Sessions provide the boys with laptops and tablets to complete their work at the centre.

Alongside Study Support and Life Skills Sessions, Summaya is studying for her masters in Organisational Psychology and working.

She has always been passionate about the issue of academic opportunities for BAME people. It was this that gave her the idea to set up Study Support and Life Skills Sessions.

Summaya said: “I think growing up in both Hackney and Walthamstow, there is always this deep-rooted issue of BAME and low socio-economic status individuals being quite disadvantaged when it comes to academia and that also has a negative impact on finding jobs.

“I was very fortunate to have a mother who works in academia herself. Financially, I was always fortunate to have parents who could pay for me to have a tutor. It was always okay for me. I would see some of my friends struggling and even now I still see them struggling.

“The longer-term issue is something that has always been there. I have always wanted to do something about it, but did not know how to go about doing that.. Merging with Salaam Peace provided that initial foundation to have access to a group that wanted help.”

Study Support and Life Skills Sessions will be buying more laptops and tablets for the boys to use for their studies in the sessions – a task helped by the recent award they received from UnLtd.

Summaya said of the grant: “It’s also going to go on any other resources that we need. We use CGP books and resources resources. It is also being used to cover the rent at the location we use. It is going on stationary, too, as well as volunteer expenses to provide them with an hourly rate.”

To find out more about Study Support and Life Skills Sessions, visit Salaam Peace’s official website

This article is supported by St James Street Big Local in association with UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs. To find out more about UnLtd, call 0207 566 1100, email simonewatson@unltd.org.uk or visit UnLtd’s official website