Despite a cash injection from Hackney council, a charity that helps thousands of disadvantaged teenagers and young adults from inner London boroughs is set to become homeless because landlords want to redevelop its headquarters – for upmarket housing.
CODE7, based near Oval, helps young people from Croydon, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Brixton, Kings Cross and Lambeth. It helps reduce crime and antisocial behaviour by giving young people access to the on-site radio station, recording facilities, a tutor and a dance studio. It also gets local police and careers advisors to regularly talk to the young people.
Team Hackney donated £70,000 to the project this year and Children in Need will donate £5,000 each quarter for the next three years. However, the London Development Agency has not offered any funding. They claim their resources could be better spent on other charities, which will do more to “benefit London.”
The LDA has helped CODE7 in the last three years by leasing them the building for free, which would cost £250,000 a year.
Asher Senator, head of the charity, said: “The LDA want to ‘release the trapped funds’ in the building. What about us? Boris championed an 18 per cent reduction in youth crime last week – some of that is down to us.”
He added: “We are grateful to the LDA for letting us lease it in the first place but now we are saying stand up and take credit for us.”
A spokesperson for the LDA said any future income from renting the flats “will be used by the LDA to meet its priorities for the overall benefit of London and Londoners.”
Mr Senator said: “If we have to leave, it’s back to the dark ages, everything we built in the community will fall apart.”
He continued: “I am very upset, the same as the kids. I’m frustrated – we’ve been here since 2005, we’ve settled here, we’ve made links with the community, and now we have to leave.”
The young people said the project helped them to keep off the streets. James Powell, 14, said: “If this place wasn’t here, maybe I’d have more time on my hands, maybe get into trouble.”
Janet Kwkye-Ampomah, 26, from Surrey Quays, said: “It’s a good outlet for the young people, creating the opportunities needed within the community.”
Anne Douglas, also 26, from Lewisham, said: “There was no place growing up that was like this, so we are taking advantage of it now.”