Serious Youth Violence and Mentoring at Baraka

22 January 2020

Serious Youth Violence and Mentoring at Baraka

Baraka Community Association’s Youth worker and Mentor, Mohemmed Senhaji (aka Mo), has been working hard with young men vulnerable to becoming involved in serious youth violence (SYV) in North Kensington. Mo engages with local young people, many of whom are known to the police, and he has consistently engaged with a particular group of youths for the past two and a half years, since the Grenfell Tower fire, where a number of them lost family and friends.

The youths gather every Friday and Saturday at Baraka to learn boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and to be mentored by Mo. “Some of the youths have become excellent boxers and I’ve recommended them to professional clubs. All of the youths have the chance to spend time together, learn boxing skills but also cooking together. This way we can engage them on SYV, employability and any issues they might be facing.”

As well as attending Baraka’s boxing club, the youths have been taken on other trips with Mo, including residentials and smaller trips away from North Kensington and outside London. Mo helps the young people access work placements and apprenticeships. One group recently undertook painting and decorating work as volunteers for another local community organisation. In return the organisation funded a trip away from London, led by Mo.

“We offer these youths, who are extremely vulnerable to SYV, a different culture away from the mindset of North Kensington, where there is a lot of crime.”

Last week, Mo led a group of six youths to La Plange in the French Alps for snowboarding and skiing. The group stayed in a self-catering chalet on a mountain with over 100 ski lifts. “None of the youths had ever been on an adventure like this before. They gained teamwork skills, understood about taking responsibility for shared space, about safety, how to respect a foreign culture and we had opportunities to talk to them seriously about their futures and how to conduct themselves in a responsible and self-respecting way.”

Mo explains the benefits: “The young people went on a trip that they themselves can’t currently afford. Now they are incentivised to be more independent so they can afford to pay for their own travel. Now they see the link between working, earning and having a good quality life. There is more to life than fighting and gang culture. They met people in France, they made friends and broadened their horizons. All of the feedback has been positive, they’re already nagging me to do another trip straight away.”

SYV is a major issue in west London and is increasingly on the radar of the Greater London Authority and other public bodies.

Baraka boxing sessions and mentoring for boys are held on Fridays and Saturdays, 5:00 – 7:00pm, aged 11 – 21. More info here.

  • Author: Abdullahi
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