Baraka Youth Mentoring
Baraka's Lead Youth Worker and Mentor, Mohammed Senhaji, has been running projects across the borough.
As described in our previous blog, Baraka Community Association’s Lead Youth Worker and Mentor, Mohammed ‘Mo’ Senhaji has been busy during the coronavirus pandemic encouraging North Kensington’s young people to stay healthy and stay safe during the lockdown.
Before the Covid-19 crisis began, Mo was also actively engaged in projects in the south of the borough, Chelsea, in pockets of that area that have similar economic and social challenges to North Kensington.
Like North Kensington, the World’s End Estate in Chelsea and the area around it suffer from the prevalence of knife crime, drugs (taking and selling) and anti-social behaviour among the young population.
Through Big Local Trust, Mo was funded by Kensington and Chelsea Council’s Serious Youth Violence (SYV) team to deliver support for young people in the area, primarily those living on the World’s End estate, many of them living on the upper floor’s of the estate’s towers. Many of the youths had previously been rejected by other local organisations and youth centres due to anti-social behaviour.
The nine-week project, ‘Big Local MO1 Youth Skills’, featured talks on the dangers of gang membership from reformed ex-gang members Chris Preddie (OBE) and Stephen Graham. Both men were able to deliver inspirational talks to the youths and offer hope for ways forward, away from gang membership and crime.
Mo also provided outreach work in the local streets, identifying vulnerable youths and organising opportunities to eat together. The sessions enabled Mo and his colleagues to identify young people who are ready to move on, into work and apprenticeships and he helped them to take steps in those directions.
The Chelsea sessions also include boxing, learning techniques for recording music, go-cart mechanics (with Michael Defoe from the Harrow Club), cooking, art and trips out of London. The sessions will resume as soon as the lockdown is lifted at a youth centre on the World’s End estate.
Perhaps most important work is the referrals Mo and his colleagues can make to specialists for those young people they encounter with mental health problems.
Council SYV officers visited the project and saw that many of the youths Mo had engaged were known to the police and considered difficult to reach. And other local youth centres have been in touch to say ‘well done’ for reaching the young people. With funding secured from the council and elsewhere, Mo’s team has been able to secure the use of the youth club at World’s End on Monday nights.
Mo extends a big thank you to Vanessa Kelly, manager at Big Local on Lots Road. And to Rashid Chentouf, youth worker and SYV specialist who has worked with Mo on the Chelsea project.
You can follow Mo on Instagram here
And read more about Baraka’s youth mentoring here.