Harlesden charity founder says community must work together to prevent young people turning to crime

Jennifer Ogole, founder of Bang Edutainment (Picture: Leon Rowe)

Jennifer Ogole, founder of Bang Edutainment (Picture: Leon Rowe) - Credit: Archant

The founder of a children’s charity in Harlesden has urged the community to work together to prevent young people from turning to crime.

Jennifer Ogole spearheads Bang Edutainment in the High Road, a charity which aims to raise the aspirations of eight 25-year-olds by creating opportunities for them.

She said the murder of 15-year-old Quamari Serunkuma Barnes in January by another 15-year-old boy shocked the community.

She said more needs to be done to turn young people away from crime.

She said: “The death of Quamari was a massive shock and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better.

“There are many reasons why young people offend, including breakdowns in the family unit.

“Young people are not born bad, but labels and situations outside of their control can lead them to crime, and to seeking affirmation from other places. It’s for us as a community to draw them back.”

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Ms Ogole launched her charity in 1999 following the death of her sister who suffered from mental illness.

She said: “Harlesden was once the gun crime capital of the UK.

“I grew up on a Stonebridge estate, I grew up seeing all the challenges we still face.

“Initially my ambition was to make as much money as I could by leaving, but then I realised, maybe a lot of people are going through what my sister did and I can be part of the solution.”

With others she set up Bang Radio, a community radio station rebranded as Beat London in 2016.

She said: “Back in the day there was a lot of money in the public sector to train young people.

Council budgets for them have reduced so much, to around £300,000 a year. It’s terrible, absolutely terrible.”

She said her charity’s No Limits programme for eight to 13-year-olds is her “biggest success” to date, teaching young children emotional resilience and coping strategies. It’s funding is due to run out next year.

She added: “Resources have to be put into youth services. That needs to happen on a local level, national level and community level.

“We are powerful, we are not powerless. Get involved. If you see someone doing something positive, if an organisation is doing that work, support them.

She added: “In Brent people are extremely passionate and talented.

“We have always got on, our diversity is our strength.”