Afua Nkansah-Asamoah, a young campaigner from Walthamstow, urges local people to get active in their community
I was born in Ghana and moved to Waltham Forest when I was 12 years’ old. I have a passion for doing community work to help the lives of others, and my first charity project was through my secondary school. I had to select a charity, research it, and then do a presentation on it.
The project allowed me to learn about how charities work to help others, and was a first step to getting involved locally. In 2015, I joined the ‘Young Leaders Programme’ delivered by Active
Change Foundation, a charity for young people based in Lea Bridge Road.
The programme provided me with the platform to learn new skills, develop my leadership ability, meet like-minded young people, and receive support to achieve my goals. Even after the programme finished, I am still an active member of the charity, attending various youth-centred programmes and activities. Just recently I organised and delivered a youth-crime awareness event in the local area. This experience raised my enthusiasm to help people and led to me becoming a youth ambassador for ONE, a global campaigning and advocacy organistion.
Last year I became more active on social media and followed all the disasters happening around the world. I felt powerless and small because I was unable to change the course of these events. I would not have imagined just a year later being given the platform to campaign for the concerns I have always wanted to. This means I get to be part of a community that holds Members of Parliament to their promises and affect change instead of simply feeling sad in the comfort of my room.
UK aid is something to be proud about as it shows we care and are not blind to the concerns of others. It is what makes our country great, our compassion for those less fortunate. I will be looking to work with Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy and other people in the community to raise awareness in future. The ONE campaign does not want your money; we just want your voice.
There are 55 other youth ambassadors across the country, and this is the fourth year the scheme has run. Past ambassadors for ONE have campaigned to cut extreme poverty in half. Let’s shout so that poverty is no longer a thing.
We live in Waltham Forest, one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK, yet house prices are ridiculously high. Historically Walthamstow’s name meant ‘Welcome-stow’, a place of welcome, but we don’t always reflect this because of fear and division. As there is a shift from community to individualism, I say let’s remember and speak out for the less fortunate. By doing nothing, you are passively watching and indirectly being complicit. I ask you to be anti-something, where you challenge that which is wrong and unfair. Hope should rise from Waltham Forest – #RiseStrong and, like a little candle, light up others.
The reason I am doing this is because young people can do something positive. There’s more behind our makeup and hoodies, and we don’t just live online. Sometimes the media doesn’t see it or chooses not to see it. My friends campaign about issues in Syria and Palestine. Building a school in Jerusalem, starting a youth centre in Slough, demanding that decisions-makers listen to us. I meet creative and innovative minds from strong negotiators to fundraisers, driven by cause for change in their communities.
We are sold the illusion that everything is bad and the future cannot be bright. If we are still alive and have the will to make things better, why not? That is the reason I am part of the #RiseStrong campaign, and the reason I am now a ONE youth ambassador; to allow young people to be the voice they want to hear.
To find out more about the ONE Youth Ambassador Programme:
For more information about Active Change Foundation:
Call 0208 279 1258