https://vimeo.com/109444172 This video was made by young people at Baraka Youth Association in Ladbroke Grove, London. It's about their community, youth project and love of football! Different youth groups across London will watch this video to get an idea of who they are and where they're from before coming together for home and away Football Journeys. The Football Journeys bring different communities together to develop positive leadership skills, have fun, eat good food and spread our values of tolerance, respect and understanding.

 

 

 

Press Release. 3rd July 2014

 

UK Registered  Charity Number 1087721

Reg. Office: 10 Canal Side House, 383 Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5AA

 

NEW NAME FOR BARAKA (‘Baraka’ translates as ‘blessing’).

 

Baraka Community Association is the new name of the organisation formally known as Baraka Youth Association. Baraka is an organisation based in North Kensington that primarily supports young Somalians, but from November 2013 the members of the Charity passed a resolution to amend the Constitution of the Charity including Name change in recognition of the charity’s widening areas of work.

While the charity’s core work will continue to be based around the much needed educational programmes, mentoring and youth engagement, we also currently undertake the following Tri-Borough work:-

  • Parenting programme

  • Intergenerational project

  • Crime prevention

  • Health and wellbeing

     

    The charity’s aims and objectives remain primarily to advance the welfare of asylum-seeker and refugee immigrant communities, mainly of Somalian origin but also including other vulnerable recently arrived/settled ethnic minority communities in London, concentrating particularly on those who live in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; in the City of Westminster; in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and in the London Borough of Brent.

     

    The charity will endeavour to achieve its aim of advancing the welfare of its target users in London by:-

     

1.  Provision of a counselling, advice, and guidance service to the target group to assist with their integration and inclusion into the wider community through access to services, education, training and jobs.

2. Provision of educational assistance to adults to acquire and develop their written and spoken English language abilities to improve their functionality in their new host community.

3. Provision of homework and study facilities for school-age children of the target communities to raise the children’s ability to access the school curriculum in the key subjects of English, Maths and Science. It will also raise these children’s self-confidence and allow them to integrate fully with their peers into the host community.

 

1.  By targeting the specifically “at risk” youth who may be in danger of drifting into alienation, isolation, anti-social behaviour, extremism and criminality. This we do by reaching out into our community, identifying those at risk, earning their trust through targeted professional mentoring, and then working in partnership with their parents, their schools, the Youth Services and other mainstream service providers for the benefit of this “difficult to reach” target group. We aim to prevent the drift into alienation from mainstream society by these young people (sometimes referred to as NEETs – Not in Employment, Education or Training)

 

1.  Provision of social activities such as holiday programmes to the seaside and the countryside, sports programmes, and other social and recreational activities such as coffee mornings for at-home mothers and family get-togethers. Within this we also encourage our service-users to become volunteers and peer-mentors to support others in need.

  

ENDS

 

Baraka Community Association Featured in Kensigngton & Chelsea Link Magazine

Baraka's Abdullahi was honoured for his outstanding contribution to life in the Borough,

Click on the link to read more:

KCSC_Link_Summer_2014

 

Baraka Youth Participate in TFL's Art on the Underground Project

 

For more information, see TFL's newsletter here

 

BYA and the Garden of Hope Project featured on the Groundwork London website

 

Garden of Hope flourishes in Ladbroke Grove On Saturday 13 April, Ladbroke Grove’s community celebrated the launch of the Garden of Hope, a new gardening and food growing project. The young people from Baraka Youth Association in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea have been growing their own food at St Charles Centre Allotment in Exmoor Street, for the past four months.

The Somali Baraka Youth Association partnered with environmental regeneration charity Groundwork London and the group were part of their Climate Change Youth Ambassadors programme, funded by Johnson Controls Inc. Through this they have been able to raise awareness in their community about the environment and sustainable food issues and grow their own herbs and vegetables.

The young people decided to organise this event to showcase the garden and invited their community along. Activities included a gardening workshop as well as smoothie making, healthy food and games. The event was attended by 50 people including Councillor Pat Healy, Councillor Robert Mingay, young people and their families and plot holders from the allotment.

The group have been working hard to prepare their allotment, which they named Garden of Hope, for spring. As well as growing garlic, onions and herbs in their plot, they have had training in gardening techniques and tool use. They have also been propagating vegetable seeds and building frames for runner beans. They have also been raising awareness in their community by designing their own publicity materials to promote gardening sessions and using social media to spread the word.

 

Alice Hemming, Groundwork London, said: “The Baraka group learnt a lot about their environment and their impact upon it over the last few months and have managed to apply their learning in a fun and hands on way by growing healthy food. The young people have shown incredible commitment and determination, and they should be proud of their hard work in transforming and maintaining a community space. We look forward to continuing to support the young people and encourage them to improve their local environment.”

Abdullahi Ali, Co-ordinator of the Baraka Youth Association said:

“The young people wanted to find out how to grow food and wanted to work as a team and implement a green project. Groundwork listened to their ideas and supported them to run successful project and inform other young people.”

Suad Nur, a project participant, commented:

“My experience with the Garden of Hope has enabled me to become proactive in leading and participating in the programme. Our gardening sessions have also brought us together as team as we work and strive towards the same goal. This would not have been possible without the support from Groundwork London.”

The young people will continue to be supported through Groundwork London’s Good Grounds for gardening project, with regular workshops for another year, meaning that the garden will continue to flourish into the future.


 

BYA feature in Kensington & Chelsea Today:

Garden of hope in Ladbroke Grove


On Saturday 13 April, Ladbroke Grove’s community celebrated the launch of the Garden of Hope, a new gardening and food growing project. The young people from Baraka Youth Association in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea have been growing their own food at St Charles Centre Allotment in Exmoor Street, for the past four months. The Somali Baraka Youth Association partnered with environmental regeneration charity Groundwork London and the group were part of their Climate Change Youth Ambassadors programme, funded by Johnson Controls Inc. Through this they have been able to raise awareness in their community about the environment and sustainable food issues and grow their own herbs and vegetables. The young people decided to organise this event to showcase the garden and invited their community along. Activities included a gardening workshop as well as smoothie making, healthy food and games. The event was attended by 50 people including Councillor Pat Healy, Councillor Robert Mingay, young people and their families and plot holders from the allotment.  The group have been working hard to prepare their allotment, which they named Garden of Hope, for spring. As well as growing garlic, onions and herbs in their plot, they have had training in gardening techniques and tool use. They have also been propagating vegetable seeds and building frames for runner beans. They have also been raising awareness in their community by designing their own publicity materials to promote gardening sessions and using social media to spread the word.

 

Alice Hemming, Groundwork London, said: “The Baraka group learnt a lot about their environment and their impact upon it over the last few months and have managed to apply their learning in a fun and hands on way by growing healthy food. The young people have shown incredible commitment and determination, and they should be proud of their hard work in transforming and maintaining a community space. We look forward to continuing to support the young people and encourage them to improve their local environment.”

 

Abdullahi Ali, Co-ordinator of the Baraka Youth Association said:   “The young people wanted to find out how to grow food and wanted to work as a team and implement a green project. Groundwork listened to their ideas and supported them to run successful project and inform other young people.” Suad Nur, a project participant, commented:   “My experience with the Garden of Hope has enabled me to become proactive in leading and participating in the programme. Our gardening sessions have also brought us together as team as we work and strive towards the same goal. This would not have been possible without the support from Groundwork London.” The young people will continue to be supported through Groundwork London’s Good Grounds for gardening project, with regular workshops for another year, meaning that the garden will continue to flourish into the future.

 

Baraka, No Drama. Article on BYA on the Source Mag website,

The Baraka Youth Association have been grafting for over a decade to raise the level of educational attainment and integration of local young people of Somali origin.

With well-established roots in North Kensington and wider West London, Baraka forms part of the Somali Network in Kensington and Chelsea, a collective of Somali groups that organises events, support each other’s work and represent their community in meetings with local government.   Baraka carries out a range of educational and recreational activities: supplementary schooling for GCSE and ‘A’ Level students, English lessons, football coaching, gym and swimming sessions for children, as well as advice sessions and IT classes for adults. Baraka takes groups of local children on an annual field trip to East Sussex and last year the young people of the Association raised their own funds for a summer trip to Sweden for the first leg of a youth exchange programme.

Baraka’s enterprising efforts take place in a context of hardship for the local Somali community. A 2011 report by Kensington and Chelsea Social Council describes Somalis in the borough as a “Community in crisis.” Accounts of Somalis in London consistently identify a stream of problems: lack of adequate housing, a language barrier, poor educational attainment, arcane immigration procedures, hostile misrepresentation in the media, young men drifting in to crime and khat and institutional racism in Britain. There is a even a glaring underestimation of the size of the Somali population in London in official statistics, symptomatic of the fact that Somalis are an impoverished and somewhat forgotten group unable to demand much attention from wider society.   As public spending and welfare continues to be ruthlessly cut by our class conscious Tory government, the situation is precarious for many British Somalis. Education is identified in the community as the path to integration and economic well being, but with the dramatic rise in university tuition fees, there is a long road ahead for the bright young members of the Baraka Youth Association.   These young people excel at school, attend Baraka’s volunteer-run supplementary schools and homework clubs and talk about their love of London and their commitment to retaining their heritage and Somali identity. That they managed to find the time and energy to raise the funds for a hugely successful trip to Sweden is worthy of immense praise. But Britain hasn’t yet enabled its Somalis to maximise their contribution to society and their work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit remain largely untapped resources. Britain’s sluggishness combined with the inevitable problems resulting from grinding poverty leave a serious and worrying reality.

The Guardian carried a couple of op-eds in 2012 putting a positive spin on the Somali Diaspora in Britain. There are reasons to be positive as the community begins to gain a foothold and individual Somalis make outstanding contributions. Nevertheless, the headings given to these articles, ‘Somali community in Britain begins to find its voice’ and ‘British Somalis: Nomads no more’ are somewhat misleading and do not accurately reflect the concerns of the authors.   Baraka Youth Association was been taking positive steps since long before David Cameron’s dud ‘big society’ idea was announced in 2010. During the preparations for Baraka’s 2012 Sweden visit, Abdullahi Ali, co-ordinator of the Youth Association told me of an idea he had: “Why not grow and sell our own fruit and veg? People will see Somalis in a positive light if we engage with them in business.”   True to form, Abdullahi and the Baraka Youth have made it happen. Baraka’s allotment in North Kensington is up and running and the ‘Garden of Hope’ Launch Event will take place this week.


Working in partnership with Groundwork London Baraka are raising awareness in their community about the environment and sustainable food issues by growing their own fruit and vegetables. The young people will showcase their hard work on their allotment at the launch event with an afternoon of gardening workshops, games, prizes, food and refreshments.

At Baraka’s HQ on Ladbroke Grove Abdullahi told me: “We held a meeting and asked the children and young people what they wanted us to do. They were keen on doing something environmental; specifically they wanted to know how food is grown. So I spoke to the Kensington and Chelsea Youth Service who set us up with the Groundwork Community Development Team, who were then able to meet with the young people and develop ideas that have now become a successful project. The young people have already attended a number of sessions with Alice and Richard from Groundwork and are blogging about their experiences.”   And the Baraka Youth themselves? “My experience with the project has enabled me to become proactive in leading a group as well as being in a team” Suad Nur told me. “We all work towards our goal together: to grow our fruit and vegetables and distribute them to our community. Our gardening sessions brought us together as a team, and the support from Groundwork really helped with that.”   The ‘Garden of Hope’ Launch Event will take place on Saturday the 13th of April, 12:00-3:00pm at the allotment in St Charles Centre for Health & Well-being. Everyone welcome.

 

Baraka Youth Association appears in an article on the Urban Dandy London website

See the article on the original website here or read below...


 

 In these austere times of high unemployment and cuts to essential services, the Somali community in North Kensington is probably better prepared than most to cope. They have, after all, been living with austerity and economic hardship for years.

A detailed report by Kensington and Chelsea Social Council describes Somalis in the borough as a ‘Community in crisis’, outlining the many problems to affect the London section of the Somali Diaspora. The problems identified range from high levels of unemployment to drug addiction, a lack of integration and low educational attainment.

Raising educational standards is identified as the key to improving integration and enhancing the lives and prospects of this and future generations of British Somalis.

Given the right conditions, Somalis will prosper. According to Abdullahi Ali, co-ordinator of the Baraka Youth Association in North Kensington, Somalis have a natural flair for entrepreneurship: “Somalis are naturally business-minded people. We put in long hours to make our businesses work. This comes from Somalia itself, where opportunities to get rich are limited and so feeding your family is the biggest motivation”.

One of the problems Abdullahi identifies is that this work ethic and aptitude for business has struggled to translate in to success in Britain, and the host country has not yet harnessed the skills of its Somali community. “We need to put ourselves out there more if we are to be successful” Abdullahi tells UDL; “Somalis need to focus more on serving every community in Britain, not just their own.”

Baraka Youth Association (BYA) has been aware of the needs of the community for the past decade and has worked tirelessly to help improve the lives of young Somalis and their parents. BYA’s activities include supplementary schooling for GCSE and ‘A’ Level students, English lessons, football coaching every weekend, gym and swimming sessions for children, as well as advice sessions and IT classes for adults. BYA takes groups of local children on an annual field trip to East Sussex and this summer is taking a group of young Somalis to Gothenburg, Sweden on the first leg of a youth exchange programme. The children have raised the money for the trip themselves.


FC Baraka


Baraka field trip

BYA focuses on the twin goals of education and integration, helping young people to improve their grades and therefore their economic and social prospects. BYA also forms part of the Somali Network in Kensington and Chelsea, bringing together Somali organisations of all sizes to organise events and support each other’s work. The network held a successful joint conference on education in March.

This work, carried out mainly by volunteers, is set against a backdrop of hardship for the community. But, it needn’t be like that, according to Abdullahi Ali: “We provide role models for the younger generation through our mentoring scheme. We also help boost academic performance. But, we are also interested in pursing other ways forward, like supporting young people to undertake internships and scholarships”.

One of Baraka’s schemes is to facilitate Somalis taking up gardening in allotments; “Why not grow and sell our own fruit and veg?” says Abdullahi. “People will see Somalis in a positive light if we engage with them in business”.

When visiting supplementary classes and football coaching sessions, or visiting its office on Ladbroke Grove, the most striking thing about the Baraka Youth Association is that it is always looking outwards, striving to engage positively and encouraging its community to give to society in order to get more back.

For more on the Baraka Youth Association, visit it’s website here

For information on Baraka’s supplementary schools and free sports activities, contact Abdullahi Ali on 07949 727322.

 

 

Baraka Youth Association featured in Kensington and Chelsea Social Council Link Newsletter


With the Olympics coming to Britain it is hoped that people will be inspired to take up sports. We spoke to Abdullahi Ali from Baraka Youth Association about the role sport has played in inspiring and focusing the young people his organisation works with.

Can you tell us a bit about the origins of the Baraka Youth Association?

Baraka has been around for about ten years. We started with football for young boys and their fathers. A lot of new arrivals from Somalia settled in the area in the late 90s and there was a growing problem with some of the boys getting mixed up in anti-social behaviour and petty crime. Some of us parents thought we needed something constructive to do and so we started playing football at St Charles Memorial Park.

Did you have any support to do this?

At first it was parents from the local community, at one stage we had an ex-player who had played for the Somali national team to come and train the boys which made everyone more determined to succeed. It wasn’t until 2002 when we got some funding from Children in Need that we could afford to buy kits and boots. Westway Development Trust has also been helpful and even now they provide us with pitches to play on weekends. We run sessions for juniors from 4pm to 6pm on Saturdays and for those aged over 16 at the same time on Sundays.

How has football helped the people you support?

It was never about helping people become professional footballers. It keeps you fit but the sessions were also a chance for people to make friends and meet people they otherwise wouldn’t meet.

Post-9/11 there was a lot of discrimination; many Somali children faced bullying and we wanted to break down some barriers through football. We play a lot against teams from different backgrounds and our teams are not now wholly Somali. We welcome children from all backgrounds. Football has in many cases been a stepping stone to wider participation. We have encouraged the boys to take up gym sessions and to try for the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme; 14 children have now received a bronze award.


What other activities do you provide?

We started female-only swimming classes for the girls, normally over 12s wouldn’t swim because they wouldn’t want to attend mixed classes. We had to find females from the community who would volunteer to support them. Every year we take the boys and girls away, camping in the countryside. We encourage them to work in teams and to work things out for themselves. In one activity which counted towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award we dropped a group of 14 girls and boys miles away from their base camp and had them make their own way there. I think they found it quite a learning curve but very rewarding once they had completed the task.


Baraka Current activities include:

Study Support English year 7 – year 11 on Monday 6:30 – 8:30

Study Support Maths/Science year 7, 8, and 9 on Wednesday 8:30-6:30

Study Support Maths/homework support year 10 and 11 on Thursday 5:30-7:30

 

How does the sporting activity you provide link to the supplementary school activities?

A lot of children get involved through sport and then start attending the supplementary school classes. I believe the discipline and team ethic children learn through sport helps them in the classroom. Those who attend regular sports activities also become better at school. As part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme we encouraged children to volunteer. Sometimes they might help in the classroom by taking the register and we recorded the time they spent helping out. 17 children have become peer mentors. Participation helps to tackle low self-esteem and raises aspirations. We encourage children to put forward suggestions for activities and they have taken part in debating contests and been taken on trips to the science museum.

What new activities are you involved with at the moment?

This summer we will be taking some of the children on an exchange trip to Sweden, they had to fundraise for the trip themselves and managed to raise £2,500. We are also developing a small allotment for boys to grow vegetables; the girls are taking part in an intergenerational project in which they are teaching older women computer skills in exchange for being taught skills like sewing.

We have drop-in advice and guidance sessions and refer to CAB and local law centre those with more complicated cases; we deliver regular coffee mornings, workshops and seminars for parents and local residents aimed at improving their knowledge of the education system, training and job opportunities, fitness and health eating.

The Baraka senior football team will be playing African Nations Cup as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.

 

This article first appeared in the Kensington and Chelsea Social Council Link Newsletter. The full newsletter can be read here

 

 

 

Press Release. 3rd July 2014


UK Registered  Charity Number 1087721

Reg. Office: 10 Canal Side House, 383 Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5AA

 

NEW NAME FOR BARAKA (‘Baraka’ translates as ‘blessing’).

 

Baraka Community Association is the new name of the organisation formally known as Baraka Youth Association. Baraka is an organisation based in North Kensington that primarily supports young Somalians, but from November 2013 the members of the Charity passed a resolution to amend the Constitution of the Charity including Name change in recognition of the charity’s widening areas of work.

While the charity’s core work will continue to be based around the much needed educational programmes, mentoring and youth engagement, we also currently undertake the following Tri-Borough work:-

  • Parenting programme

  • Intergenerational project

  • Crime prevention

  • Health and wellbeing

     

    The charity’s aims and objectives remain primarily to advance the welfare of asylum-seeker and refugee immigrant communities, mainly of Somalian origin but also including other vulnerable recently arrived/settled ethnic minority communities in London, concentrating particularly on those who live in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; in the City of Westminster; in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and in the London Borough of Brent.

     

    The charity will endeavour to achieve its aim of advancing the welfare of its target users in London by:-

     

1.  Provision of a counselling, advice, and guidance service to the target group to assist with their integration and inclusion into the wider community through access to services, education, training and jobs.

2. Provision of educational assistance to adults to acquire and develop their written and spoken English language abilities to improve their functionality in their new host community.

3. Provision of homework and study facilities for school-age children of the target communities to raise the children’s ability to access the school curriculum in the key subjects of English, Maths and Science. It will also raise these children’s self-confidence and allow them to integrate fully with their peers into the host community.

 

1.  By targeting the specifically “at risk” youth who may be in danger of drifting into alienation, isolation, anti-social behaviour, extremism and criminality. This we do by reaching out into our community, identifying those at risk, earning their trust through targeted professional mentoring, and then working in partnership with their parents, their schools, the Youth Services and other mainstream service providers for the benefit of this “difficult to reach” target group. We aim to prevent the drift into alienation from mainstream society by these young people (sometimes referred to as NEETs – Not in Employment, Education or Training)

 

1.  Provision of social activities such as holiday programmes to the seaside and the countryside, sports programmes, and other social and recreational activities such as coffee mornings for at-home mothers and family get-togethers. Within this we also encourage our service-users to become volunteers and peer-mentors to support others in need.

  

ENDS

 

Baraka Community Association Featured in Kensigngton & Chelsea Link Magazine

Baraka's Abdullahi was honoured for his outstanding contribution to life in the Borough,

Click on the link to read more:

KCSC_Link_Summer_2014

 

Baraka Youth Participate in TFL's Art on the Underground Project

For more information, see TFL's newsletter here

 

BYA and the Garden of Hope Project featured on the Groundwork London website

Garden of Hope flourishes in Ladbroke Grove On Saturday 13 April, Ladbroke Grove’s community celebrated the launch of the Garden of Hope, a new gardening and food growing project. The young people from Baraka Youth Association in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea have been growing their own food at St Charles Centre Allotment in Exmoor Street, for the past four months.

The Somali Baraka Youth Association partnered with environmental regeneration charity Groundwork London and the group were part of their Climate Change Youth Ambassadors programme, funded by Johnson Controls Inc. Through this they have been able to raise awareness in their community about the environment and sustainable food issues and grow their own herbs and vegetables.

The young people decided to organise this event to showcase the garden and invited their community along. Activities included a gardening workshop as well as smoothie making, healthy food and games. The event was attended by 50 people including Councillor Pat Healy, Councillor Robert Mingay, young people and their families and plot holders from the allotment.

The group have been working hard to prepare their allotment, which they named Garden of Hope, for spring. As well as growing garlic, onions and herbs in their plot, they have had training in gardening techniques and tool use. They have also been propagating vegetable seeds and building frames for runner beans. They have also been raising awareness in their community by designing their own publicity materials to promote gardening sessions and using social media to spread the word.


Alice Hemming, Groundwork London, said: “The Baraka group learnt a lot about their environment and their impact upon it over the last few months and have managed to apply their learning in a fun and hands on way by growing healthy food. The young people have shown incredible commitment and determination, and they should be proud of their hard work in transforming and maintaining a community space. We look forward to continuing to support the young people and encourage them to improve their local environment.”

Abdullahi Ali, Co-ordinator of the Baraka Youth Association said:

“The young people wanted to find out how to grow food and wanted to work as a team and implement a green project. Groundwork listened to their ideas and supported them to run successful project and inform other young people.”

Suad Nur, a project participant, commented:

“My experience with the Garden of Hope has enabled me to become proactive in leading and participating in the programme. Our gardening sessions have also brought us together as team as we work and strive towards the same goal. This would not have been possible without the support from Groundwork London.”

The young people will continue to be supported through Groundwork London’s Good Grounds for gardening project, with regular workshops for another year, meaning that the garden will continue to flourish into the future.


 

BYA feature in Kensington & Chelsea Today:

Garden of hope in Ladbroke Grove


On Saturday 13 April, Ladbroke Grove’s community celebrated the launch of the Garden of Hope, a new gardening and food growing project. The young people from Baraka Youth Association in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea have been growing their own food at St Charles Centre Allotment in Exmoor Street, for the past four months. The Somali Baraka Youth Association partnered with environmental regeneration charity Groundwork London and the group were part of their Climate Change Youth Ambassadors programme, funded by Johnson Controls Inc. Through this they have been able to raise awareness in their community about the environment and sustainable food issues and grow their own herbs and vegetables. The young people decided to organise this event to showcase the garden and invited their community along. Activities included a gardening workshop as well as smoothie making, healthy food and games. The event was attended by 50 people including Councillor Pat Healy, Councillor Robert Mingay, young people and their families and plot holders from the allotment.  The group have been working hard to prepare their allotment, which they named Garden of Hope, for spring. As well as growing garlic, onions and herbs in their plot, they have had training in gardening techniques and tool use. They have also been propagating vegetable seeds and building frames for runner beans. They have also been raising awareness in their community by designing their own publicity materials to promote gardening sessions and using social media to spread the word.

 

Alice Hemming, Groundwork London, said: “The Baraka group learnt a lot about their environment and their impact upon it over the last few months and have managed to apply their learning in a fun and hands on way by growing healthy food. The young people have shown incredible commitment and determination, and they should be proud of their hard work in transforming and maintaining a community space. We look forward to continuing to support the young people and encourage them to improve their local environment.”

 

Abdullahi Ali, Co-ordinator of the Baraka Youth Association said:   “The young people wanted to find out how to grow food and wanted to work as a team and implement a green project. Groundwork listened to their ideas and supported them to run successful project and inform other young people.” Suad Nur, a project participant, commented:   “My experience with the Garden of Hope has enabled me to become proactive in leading and participating in the programme. Our gardening sessions have also brought us together as team as we work and strive towards the same goal. This would not have been possible without the support from Groundwork London.” The young people will continue to be supported through Groundwork London’s Good Grounds for gardening project, with regular workshops for another year, meaning that the garden will continue to flourish into the future.

 

Baraka, No Drama. Article on BYA on the Source Mag website,

The Baraka Youth Association have been grafting for over a decade to raise the level of educational attainment and integration of local young people of Somali origin.

With well-established roots in North Kensington and wider West London, Baraka forms part of the Somali Network in Kensington and Chelsea, a collective of Somali groups that organises events, support each other’s work and represent their community in meetings with local government.   Baraka carries out a range of educational and recreational activities: supplementary schooling for GCSE and ‘A’ Level students, English lessons, football coaching, gym and swimming sessions for children, as well as advice sessions and IT classes for adults. Baraka takes groups of local children on an annual field trip to East Sussex and last year the young people of the Association raised their own funds for a summer trip to Sweden for the first leg of a youth exchange programme.

Baraka’s enterprising efforts take place in a context of hardship for the local Somali community. A 2011 report by Kensington and Chelsea Social Council describes Somalis in the borough as a “Community in crisis.” Accounts of Somalis in London consistently identify a stream of problems: lack of adequate housing, a language barrier, poor educational attainment, arcane immigration procedures, hostile misrepresentation in the media, young men drifting in to crime and khat and institutional racism in Britain. There is a even a glaring underestimation of the size of the Somali population in London in official statistics, symptomatic of the fact that Somalis are an impoverished and somewhat forgotten group unable to demand much attention from wider society.   As public spending and welfare continues to be ruthlessly cut by our class conscious Tory government, the situation is precarious for many British Somalis. Education is identified in the community as the path to integration and economic well being, but with the dramatic rise in university tuition fees, there is a long road ahead for the bright young members of the Baraka Youth Association.   These young people excel at school, attend Baraka’s volunteer-run supplementary schools and homework clubs and talk about their love of London and their commitment to retaining their heritage and Somali identity. That they managed to find the time and energy to raise the funds for a hugely successful trip to Sweden is worthy of immense praise. But Britain hasn’t yet enabled its Somalis to maximise their contribution to society and their work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit remain largely untapped resources. Britain’s sluggishness combined with the inevitable problems resulting from grinding poverty leave a serious and worrying reality.

The Guardian carried a couple of op-eds in 2012 putting a positive spin on the Somali Diaspora in Britain. There are reasons to be positive as the community begins to gain a foothold and individual Somalis make outstanding contributions. Nevertheless, the headings given to these articles, ‘Somali community in Britain begins to find its voice’ and ‘British Somalis: Nomads no more’ are somewhat misleading and do not accurately reflect the concerns of the authors.   Baraka Youth Association was been taking positive steps since long before David Cameron’s dud ‘big society’ idea was announced in 2010. During the preparations for Baraka’s 2012 Sweden visit, Abdullahi Ali, co-ordinator of the Youth Association told me of an idea he had: “Why not grow and sell our own fruit and veg? People will see Somalis in a positive light if we engage with them in business.”   True to form, Abdullahi and the Baraka Youth have made it happen. Baraka’s allotment in North Kensington is up and running and the ‘Garden of Hope’ Launch Event will take place this week.


Working in partnership with Groundwork London Baraka are raising awareness in their community about the environment and sustainable food issues by growing their own fruit and vegetables. The young people will showcase their hard work on their allotment at the launch event with an afternoon of gardening workshops, games, prizes, food and refreshments.

At Baraka’s HQ on Ladbroke Grove Abdullahi told me: “We held a meeting and asked the children and young people what they wanted us to do. They were keen on doing something environmental; specifically they wanted to know how food is grown. So I spoke to the Kensington and Chelsea Youth Service who set us up with the Groundwork Community Development Team, who were then able to meet with the young people and develop ideas that have now become a successful project. The young people have already attended a number of sessions with Alice and Richard from Groundwork and are blogging about their experiences.”   And the Baraka Youth themselves? “My experience with the project has enabled me to become proactive in leading a group as well as being in a team” Suad Nur told me. “We all work towards our goal together: to grow our fruit and vegetables and distribute them to our community. Our gardening sessions brought us together as a team, and the support from Groundwork really helped with that.”   The ‘Garden of Hope’ Launch Event will take place on Saturday the 13th of April, 12:00-3:00pm at the allotment in St Charles Centre for Health & Well-being. Everyone welcome.

 

Baraka Youth Association appears in an article on the Urban Dandy London website

See the article on the original website here or read below...


 

 In these austere times of high unemployment and cuts to essential services, the Somali community in North Kensington is probably better prepared than most to cope. They have, after all, been living with austerity and economic hardship for years.

A detailed report by Kensington and Chelsea Social Council describes Somalis in the borough as a ‘Community in crisis’, outlining the many problems to affect the London section of the Somali Diaspora. The problems identified range from high levels of unemployment to drug addiction, a lack of integration and low educational attainment.

Raising educational standards is identified as the key to improving integration and enhancing the lives and prospects of this and future generations of British Somalis.

Given the right conditions, Somalis will prosper. According to Abdullahi Ali, co-ordinator of the Baraka Youth Association in North Kensington, Somalis have a natural flair for entrepreneurship: “Somalis are naturally business-minded people. We put in long hours to make our businesses work. This comes from Somalia itself, where opportunities to get rich are limited and so feeding your family is the biggest motivation”.

One of the problems Abdullahi identifies is that this work ethic and aptitude for business has struggled to translate in to success in Britain, and the host country has not yet harnessed the skills of its Somali community. “We need to put ourselves out there more if we are to be successful” Abdullahi tells UDL; “Somalis need to focus more on serving every community in Britain, not just their own.”

Baraka Youth Association (BYA) has been aware of the needs of the community for the past decade and has worked tirelessly to help improve the lives of young Somalis and their parents. BYA’s activities include supplementary schooling for GCSE and ‘A’ Level students, English lessons, football coaching every weekend, gym and swimming sessions for children, as well as advice sessions and IT classes for adults. BYA takes groups of local children on an annual field trip to East Sussex and this summer is taking a group of young Somalis to Gothenburg, Sweden on the first leg of a youth exchange programme. The children have raised the money for the trip themselves.


FC Baraka


Baraka field trip

BYA focuses on the twin goals of education and integration, helping young people to improve their grades and therefore their economic and social prospects. BYA also forms part of the Somali Network in Kensington and Chelsea, bringing together Somali organisations of all sizes to organise events and support each other’s work. The network held a successful joint conference on education in March.

This work, carried out mainly by volunteers, is set against a backdrop of hardship for the community. But, it needn’t be like that, according to Abdullahi Ali: “We provide role models for the younger generation through our mentoring scheme. We also help boost academic performance. But, we are also interested in pursing other ways forward, like supporting young people to undertake internships and scholarships”.

One of Baraka’s schemes is to facilitate Somalis taking up gardening in allotments; “Why not grow and sell our own fruit and veg?” says Abdullahi. “People will see Somalis in a positive light if we engage with them in business”.

When visiting supplementary classes and football coaching sessions, or visiting its office on Ladbroke Grove, the most striking thing about the Baraka Youth Association is that it is always looking outwards, striving to engage positively and encouraging its community to give to society in order to get more back.

For more on the Baraka Youth Association, visit it’s website here

For information on Baraka’s supplementary schools and free sports activities, contact Abdullahi Ali on 07949 727322.

 

 

Baraka Youth Association featured in Kensington and Chelsea Social Council Link Newsletter


With the Olympics coming to Britain it is hoped that people will be inspired to take up sports. We spoke to Abdullahi Ali from Baraka Youth Association about the role sport has played in inspiring and focusing the young people his organisation works with.

Can you tell us a bit about the origins of the Baraka Youth Association?

Baraka has been around for about ten years. We started with football for young boys and their fathers. A lot of new arrivals from Somalia settled in the area in the late 90s and there was a growing problem with some of the boys getting mixed up in anti-social behaviour and petty crime. Some of us parents thought we needed something constructive to do and so we started playing football at St Charles Memorial Park.

Did you have any support to do this?

At first it was parents from the local community, at one stage we had an ex-player who had played for the Somali national team to come and train the boys which made everyone more determined to succeed. It wasn’t until 2002 when we got some funding from Children in Need that we could afford to buy kits and boots. Westway Development Trust has also been helpful and even now they provide us with pitches to play on weekends. We run sessions for juniors from 4pm to 6pm on Saturdays and for those aged over 16 at the same time on Sundays.

How has football helped the people you support?

It was never about helping people become professional footballers. It keeps you fit but the sessions were also a chance for people to make friends and meet people they otherwise wouldn’t meet.

Post-9/11 there was a lot of discrimination; many Somali children faced bullying and we wanted to break down some barriers through football. We play a lot against teams from different backgrounds and our teams are not now wholly Somali. We welcome children from all backgrounds. Football has in many cases been a stepping stone to wider participation. We have encouraged the boys to take up gym sessions and to try for the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme; 14 children have now received a bronze award.


What other activities do you provide?

We started female-only swimming classes for the girls, normally over 12s wouldn’t swim because they wouldn’t want to attend mixed classes. We had to find females from the community who would volunteer to support them. Every year we take the boys and girls away, camping in the countryside. We encourage them to work in teams and to work things out for themselves. In one activity which counted towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award we dropped a group of 14 girls and boys miles away from their base camp and had them make their own way there. I think they found it quite a learning curve but very rewarding once they had completed the task.


Baraka Current activities include:

Study Support English year 7 – year 11 on Monday 6:30 – 8:30

Study Support Maths/Science year 7, 8, and 9 on Wednesday 8:30-6:30

Study Support Maths/homework support year 10 and 11 on Thursday 5:30-7:30

 

How does the sporting activity you provide link to the supplementary school activities?

A lot of children get involved through sport and then start attending the supplementary school classes. I believe the discipline and team ethic children learn through sport helps them in the classroom. Those who attend regular sports activities also become better at school. As part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme we encouraged children to volunteer. Sometimes they might help in the classroom by taking the register and we recorded the time they spent helping out. 17 children have become peer mentors. Participation helps to tackle low self-esteem and raises aspirations. We encourage children to put forward suggestions for activities and they have taken part in debating contests and been taken on trips to the science museum.

What new activities are you involved with at the moment?

This summer we will be taking some of the children on an exchange trip to Sweden, they had to fundraise for the trip themselves and managed to raise £2,500. We are also developing a small allotment for boys to grow vegetables; the girls are taking part in an intergenerational project in which they are teaching older women computer skills in exchange for being taught skills like sewing.

We have drop-in advice and guidance sessions and refer to CAB and local law centre those with more complicated cases; we deliver regular coffee mornings, workshops and seminars for parents and local residents aimed at improving their knowledge of the education system, training and job opportunities, fitness and health eating.

The Baraka senior football team will be playing African Nations Cup as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.

 

This article first appeared in the Kensington and Chelsea Social Council Link Newsletter. The full newsletter can be read here