Bristol Post 16:18 PM, 25.11.2018
“We are here, we can represent ourselves, we can speak for ourselves”. A groundbreaking youth organization is making great strides with young people in the inner city.
Bristol Horn Youth Concern uses sport as a vehicle to educate young people on the danger of knife crime, gangs, sexual health and to provide a springboard to release their aspiration.
They have a long-term vision of creating a new generation of leaders for the city.
The project was founded in 2012 by seven staff of volunteers. They work with young people aged 13-19, who are mainly from BAME communities.
The organisation receives funding from a number of sources including Public Health England, Youth Offending Team, and Creative Youth Network, who have acquired the contract to run youth services in the city.
They meet twice a week to deliver basketball and football session at St Paul’s Academy and City Academy.
Youth leader and co-founder Khalil Aden Abdi said: “We want these young people to become the future leaders of the city. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, and politicians.
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“Our aim is to raise their aspirations.”
What is different about the project for Khalil is the genuine traction they have in the inner city area. The workers are local, live in the area in which they operate, are from those communities, and have an established relationship.
“We know the young people, and we talk to them where they are. We do outreach to bring them here. Most wouldn’t come into the sport centre unless we got them here.
“Obesity is a big issue for young people, and many are overweight as struggle to access quality sport activity. We provide that, and this is one of the most popular services in the area.”
Bringing young people together and strengthening their identity is a vital component for the organisation, but so is broadening their horizons.
Khalil said: “Some young people have never been outside this area. They feel secure in a certain part of the city. They feel scared to go beyond that.
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“By working with other organisations we are linking them to The Station in centre, but also have plans to take the group to parts of north and south Bristol. It’s important to connect to these other areas.”
The area around St Pauls and Easton, where the majority of young people at the session are from, is multicultural, but less so the estates of the north and south Bristol, and Khalil wants to encourage a cultural exchange.
“We need to overcome racism in this city, and starting with young people. Sport is a good way to do this. We hope to hold a tournament where we can invite groups from all over the city.”
Bristol Horn Youth Concern
“It is important for our young people to meet these other kids from different areas.”
Bristol Youth Concern want to spread a positive message about young people.
Khalil feels that sometimes press coverage doesn’t help.
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He said: “The media often only come here when something bad happens. We want to see some success stories from our young people.
“Lots of them are now working in the city centre. They are becoming educated and supported to the next step. Young people from our community want to read stories about this. We are so pleased the Bristol Post is paying attention to us these days.”
Khalil sees positive progress in the tone and amount of emphasis on Asian and Caribbean communities, but feels there is still more work to be done for the Somali community.
“We are here, we can represent ourselves, we can speak for ourselves.”
Bristol Youth Concern are always welcome for new members. Sessions are:
Fridays 5:30 – 7:30 -St Pauls