Opinion: Create an £8.6million Brent Youth Emergency Fund

Zaffar Van Kalwala feels that Covid-19 has changed the borough forever.

Zaffar Van Kalwala feels that Covid-19 has changed the borough forever. - Credit: Archant

Donald Trump dunnit, it’s 5G, it’s Bill Gates – Brent has lots of coronavirus theories!

Recently I’ve been working with local youth group, Connect Stars and their outreach work to dispel the myths and get the message out to young people. Support is also being offered to parents.

Also out are the gangs, who continue to prey on vulnerable youngsters. A UK Youth report said children are at a higher risk from gangs and “carrying weapons” during the lockdown.

Police evidence suggests gangs are still busy. Some are even using Uber to deliver drugs. Brent has one of the highest levels of county lines activity in London and the second highest number of gang members according to the Metropolitan Police.

Zero-hour contracts, poverty and uncertainty – the gangs offer a persuasive source of income.

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Covid-19 has clearly changed our borough. Urgent action is required to reduce the virus’s future impact. A Brent Youth Emergency Fund should be created using some of the council’s £8.6m neighbourhood community infrastructure levy (NCIL) money. The fund should be used to deploy youth outreach workers, who should also be classified as key workers given their potential to do some excellent preventative work, especially in deprived areas.

A safe space should also be created to make it easier for young people to get online as many suffer from limited web access. This could even create a positive Covid-19 legacy by increasing youth engagement through creative online content.

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