Features Walthamstow

Breaking bread with struggling teens

With support from Civic Futures, the Echo reported on how tens of thousands of Covid recovery funding was spent in the borough
By Victoria Munro

Young people involved with 'Break Bread and Build' (credit: MVP Media)
Young people involved with ‘Break Bread and Build’ (credit: MVP Media)

Some of the borough’s most at-risk young people are turning their lives around with just a free meal and a place to speak openly.

MVP Media, based in Walthamstow’s CRATE, is a “youth-driven” organisation that helps teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds see a brighter future for themselves.

Founder Joanna Vasanth used £9,000 in Covid recovery funding from the Greater London Authority to create the “Break Bread and Build” podcast series, where teenagers talked about social issues and got a response from experts.

Tamiya Ferguson, a 16-year-old from Chingford, said she “would not be the person [she is] today” without the project.

She told the Echo: “When I joined, I was in a really bad place in school and at home. I was getting in trouble a lot and I’d already been through a lot of schools.

“I was a certain way because I was bored. I wasn’t going to go home and entertain myself with algebra but talking about deeper topics, where I could then go away and ask myself questions, gave me something to do.

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

(Credit: MVP Media)

“You can fill youth clubs with amazing facilities but, once the kids leave, they’ve not got those facilities at home. Young people have to catch up after missing years of in-person communication but all you really need for that is a room and some tables.

“Previously, I didn’t have anywhere I could ask questions that I might be scared to ask at school or ask my parents. The internet can give you very extreme answers and I didn’t have siblings I could get advice from. In a way, this group allowed me to have siblings and even another family.

“A lot of people came from broken homes so it meant a lot to just be allowed to talk and have a meal together. We also got so many amazing guest speakers who have offered me great opportunities.”

Following their success last year, MVP Media won another grant of £1,500 from the GLA in January to continue their work.

Tamiya added: “I can finally see a bright future for my life when before I was spiralling out of control. A lot of the people I used to associate with didn’t finish school and are struggling but my life now is peaceful, I’m going to college and I’m succeeding at work.”

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