We are helping empower young people

Leyton youth charity Active Change Foundation is leading the way, writes Marcella Bruno

Young Leaders Programme

Students from Active Change Foundation’s Young Leaders Programme

Last month we celebrated our 15th cohort of students graduating from our award-winning Young Leaders Programme.

We were honoured to have Mayor of Waltham Forest Yemi Osho award our graduates with their certificates. “Take this opportunity to contribute to our community,” she told them. “This is just the beginning – set your own goals for the future.”

These young people have been challenged and inspired to choose their own personal cause that they have promoted by presenting and sharing in their schools, colleges, and communities. One of them, Talal Ahmad, has spoken to over 200 of his peers about his personal cause; preventing obesity in young people. He said: “Active Change Foundation has really helped me develop my personal confidence and presentation skills.”

After a rigorous selection process, with three different interview rounds, an exceptional group of 50 young people were selected to participate. They received training in public speaking, counter-narratives, extremism and radicalisation, and gang crime. It helped build their confidence and skills in countering hate and crime in their communities.

Georgia Stone, another young leader, said: “By the third session, which was about ideas and beliefs, I realised I felt much more aware and had the right to discuss these issues because I had other perspectives of what was going on and how it affected people. This made me feel like a part of the community and I wanted to help.”

In February the group visited the University of Leicester for a residential leadership conference where they debated and exchanged solutions and ideas. Osaidulah Waheed said: “It was the catalyst for my change in confidence, public speaking, and gave me a chance to see things from a different perspective.”

At Active Change Foundation we’ve been delivering youth services from our base in Lea Bridge Road since 2003. After the recent violence in Walthamstow the community must unite and invest in supporting our young people to counter messages of hate, extremism, terrorism, and gang-related violence.

Hanif Qadir, our chief executive, said: “Look at what young people can achieve. Local government and institutions need to get serious and give us the support to do what we are passionate about – helping our young people. The future of the Young Leaders Programme depends on collective participation and I urge you all to help organisations doing great work because we cannot rely on government.”

To get involved or to find out more about Active Change Foundation and the Young Leaders Programme:

Visit activechangefoundation.org