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Leslie Anne Orlans, 17, of Haggerston, tells young hackney about her involvement in the Hackney myplace project, and how the loss of this funding could affect young people in her area.
‘Hoxton Hall, a renowned building in my local community, which holds workshops for young people in the area, is at risk of losing its funding for a development, risking many young people being denied access to this community hub in Hackney.
I am campaigning to save Hoxton Hall and allow the funding to continue. I have personally been involved in the consultation process for the ‘MyPlace project’ which was awarded the funding to refurbish Hoxton Hall.
I was involved in the Hackney Hubbz project, where we applied for a bid to rebuild four less than average youth centres. For this bid we consulted with these centres, where we asked for their opinion on how they would like their centre to be improved allowing their voice to be heard to the local authorities, architects and designers. In March 2009 we won the bid for £5 million which would go towards these buildings. In November 2010 the first of the Hubbz was opened [the young hackney centre in Stoke Newington] and it was an astonishing improvement to what it once had been.
However, due to the Government's cuts, the Hoxton Hall Hub could be affected. This has worried me as this would be unfortunate and devastating to the many young people we talked with. One person from the consultation said, “Our voices are never heard” and another stated, “Nothing will change for us”.
Here’s an extract of the interview I held with Kieran Daly, Youth Arts Manager at Hoxton Hall regarding the proposed plans: “Is there a need for this development - especially for young people in the area? There is a massive need! This would help to bring the community together, where we need to give a wider range of activities in a poorer area. There is also a need for both professional equipment (in music, theatre and studio spaces) and theatre development (i.e. better lighting, staging and equipment).
It’s been proven that where there is provision, less incidents occur. Having many activities that are really engaging would help encourage young people off the streets i.e. street dance, fashion etc. And give something for young people to do. And as young people in the area may attend less well resourced schools, they might not have had the chance to access such activities. Also accreditations, such as the Arts Award give young people the opportunity to get qualifications and improve their employment opportunities.”
Here is a response from Amy Nguyen, 17, who lives in the area: “The possible discontinuation of the project is very disappointing because of the promise that had already been made to the people who were involved in this project and those who were looking forward to the changes that were being made for them. It is something that was publicised and a lot of work from so many people has been put in to make it appear as though something really was going to happen, it would be a real shame to see it now stopped and would let down so many people.”
In April 2009, Agnes Sina-Inakoju, a 16 year old, was shot in the neck, and died a few days later. This had a huge impact on the Hoxton area, and occurred just down the road from Hoxton Hall. This shows how such an incident occurred to a building almost completely dedicated to young people, and therefore makes young people feel unsafe around their own area. The Hubbz project had plans to allow Hoxton Hall to stay open until late evening, allowing a safe space for young people to hang out until late. This could contribute towards people not getting involved in local gangs and prevent other innocent people like Agnes losing their lives.
I also looked into the correlation between Youth Crime and Youth Centres being available, and it has been shown that projects for youth centres and activities have reduced crime committed by young people in the area. PC Michael Elliott from Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Since the Vibe project began in 2006 the district’s youth crime statistics have in the main shown a reduction in the types of offences associated with large congregations of young people centred in the area’s market towns in the evening.
In Totnes, criminal damage by young people under 16 years old fell by 58 per cent between 2005 and 2009, and in Dartmouth over the same period there was a 50 per cent drop in assaults and public order offences committed by the same age group.” (3) http://www.cypnow.co.uk/news/ByDiscipline/Youth-Work/1019260/Devon-leisure-centre-project-helps-cut-youth-crime/
In conclusion, I feel that the stopping of the funding of the Hoxton Hall Hub will affect young people of my area substantially, as I believe the funding could potentially improve and benefit my community. If it doesn’t continue, then our area could rise in youth crime as young people wouldn’t have anywhere to attend and may resort to the crime and gang lifestyle, which will also make other members of the community young and old, feel unsafe. Therefore, I believe that this funding is vital for our community; it allows young people to come together, have a centre they can call their own, and to allow a consistent and safer area for everyone to enjoy, develop their skills, gain qualifications and feel valued members of the community.'