The national volunteering charity TimeBank have set up a new youth project in Tower Hamlets called Engage — a ten-week programme providing support for young people aged 16–18, who are not in education, training or employment.
Aklima Begum, the project’s co-ordinator, said Engage is a necessary programme for the borough’s young people:
“Tower Hamlets has a very high youth population — actually one of the largest in Europe — and it also has quite high unemployment rates among this group. Therefore, it is very important that we engage these young people, motivate them and skill them to create better chances to get jobs.”
Engage is training ten young people living in Tower Hamlets about project development — teaching them everything from budgets to marketing strategies. They are then encouraged to use these skills to set up their own projects in the borough.
During the ten week programme participants will be matched with volunteer mentors. The mentors work in a wide range of sectors and offer their mentees training and educational help and support.
One of the young people participating in Engage is Kawsar Hoque. He heard about the project on a job fair in East London and joined because he wants to improve his work prospects.
Hoque’s project aims to make sure that young people from 9–11 years-old are encouraged to keep healthy and active. He is organising a football tournament where different schools are competing for a visit to Wembley Stadium.
“I have never done project management before and I thought it was going to be very challenging,” Hoque said. “I didn’t have too much confidence.”
“I am half-way through the project now. It has boosted my confidence and now I think it is realistic that I can deliver my project,” he added.
When the project ends the mentors will continue to work individually with their mentees for up to six months.