On Wednesday night, we celebrated our 15th cohort of Young Leaders, coming from Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets, as they graduated our award-winning Young Leaders Programme, which we have been running since 2012.

We were honoured to have Madame Mayor Yemisi Osho award our graduates with their certifications. Speaking to the Young Leaders, she said “Today, I want to ask you to take this opportunity to contribute to our community. This is just the beginning. Set your own goals for the future.”

Over the past 8 months, these young leaders have been challenged and inspired to determine their own personal cause that they have spearheaded by presenting and sharing in their schools, colleges, and communities. One of our Young Leaders, Talal, has spoken to over 200 of his peers about his personal cause, preventing obesity in young people. He said that “ACF has really helped me develop my personal confidence and presentation skills.”

After a rigorous selection process, with 3 different interview rounds, we selected an exceptional group of 50 young people to participate. Over the past 8 months, our Young Leaders have received training in Public Speaking, Counter-Narratives, Extremism and Radicalisation, Gang Crime, among others to help build their confidence and their skills in countering hate, extremism, and gang crime in their communities.

One of our Young Leaders, Georgia, said “By the 3rd session, which was about ideas and beliefs, I realized that I felt so much more aware that I had the right to discuss these issues because I had other perspectives of what was going on and how it affected people. This made me feel like a part of the community and I finally wanted to help!”

In February 2018, we hosted all of our Young Leaders at the University of Leicester for a Residential Leadership Conference where they discussed, debated, and exchanged solutions and ideas across boroughs. One our Leaders, Osaid, said that the residential was one of his favourite parts of the program, “After coming back from the trip I believe that it was the catalyst for my change in confidence, public speaking, and it also gave me a chance to see things from a different perspective.”

With the recent shootings of two of our young people in Tottenham and Walthamstow, now, more than ever, we must unite and invest in supporting our young people to counter messages of hate, extremism, terrorism, and gang-related violence.

Hanif Qadir, our CEO, spoke to our young people and made a direct call to the local authorities saying “Look at what young people can achieve! Local government and institutions need to get serious and give us the support to do what we are passionate about, our young people.”

Hanif told the crowd that unfortunately, if the Active Change Foundation does not receive the necessary donations, we will have to close the doors of our charity, which has been operational since 2003, because government funding was pulled in 2016.

“The future of the Young Leaders Programme depends on collective participation and I urge you all to help organisations doing great work because we cannot rely on government,” Hanif concluded.

As we celebrate this cohort of Young Leaders, we also call on you to support us so that we can invest in more young people in the future.

If you would like to get involved in supporting ACF, our Young Leaders, and our community, please consider donating here and contact us for other ways you can contribute at [email protected]