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Osmani Trust’s East End gang warfare mediators open their new community centre

PUBLISHED: 21:11 14 February 2012 | UPDATED: 07:16 16 February 2012

Cutting a dash... Mayor Rahman opens Whitechapel's Osmani Centre

Cutting a dash... Mayor Rahman opens Whitechapel's Osmani Centre

Carmen Valino on shift

Hundreds of supporters and visitors packed a new youth centre—which mediates to reduce street gang wars in London’s East End—for its official grand opening.

Among the VIPs joining Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman cutting the ribbon yesterday (Monday) was Zara Brownless, winner of the BBC’s Young Apprentice contest who had turned up to address a Young Women’s conference being held at the new four-storey centre.

The Osmani Trust has long been making its mark with its gang mediation project tackling ‘turf wars’ which have plagued East End neighbourhoods for years.

Its gang mediation project visits schools to involve teenagers and aims to take the glamour out of youth conflict.

“We offer mediation and try to deglamorise youth conflict,” the Osmani Trust’s operations manager Jobrul Islam told The Docklands & East London Advertiser. “We get referrals from social services, schools, youth offending services and even the police.”

The trust has built up a team of 38 professional youth, advice and support workers and 70 community volunteers. Projects include youth and adult educational and employment support.

The centre uses a school sports hall next-door in the evenings to stage boxing, badminton, basketball, football and other sports which involves 1,000 teenagers and adults every week. It manages seven football teams in Sunday and Saturday leagues.

Last year’s Lord Mayor of the City of London, Sir Michael Bear, returned as its patron after having launched the original fund to build the centre.

He said: “I’ve done many speeches as Lord Mayor. The highlight for me last year was seeing this being built—now I’m here as you embark on you future.”

A series of events over five days to mark the centre’s official opening kicked off last Thursday with a health seminar bringing together professionals from industry and the NHS, then a women’s conference yesterday (Mon) and a mental health awareness day today.

But media attention is on tomorrow’s convention looking into riots, gangs and racism which examines approaches to youth conflict and the motivation behind it.

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