Dizzee Rascal helps Futureversity to keep East End kids off the streets

Campaigners have begun fundraising for �1 million to help youngsters in London’s East End stay off the streets to reduce crime and the risk of turmoil like last summer’s riots.

The Valentine’s Day launch was aimed at raising cash for the charity Futureversity to get more youngsters into further education and into jobs.

The charity—whose patron is rapper Dizzee Rascal—runs summer courses and ‘job ready’ programmes in Tower Hamlets where one-in-four school-leavers is on the dole.

Demand for courses last year was five times higher than the programme was able to cater for.

The charity’s chief executive Sarah Davies said: “Our courses get young people off the streets when there’s nothing better to do—no-one wants a repeat of the 2011 summer riots. Young people in particular are suffering.”

Today’s launch at Old Spitalfields Market had a Valentine’s theme with volunteers selling raffle tickets for prizes including a heart shaped chocolate cake, flowers and tea for two.

Dizzee Rascal, who was on one of the summer courses himself, said: “You get this overall perception of a council estate where everyone is selling drugs, or everyone robs.

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“The truth is most young people are just trying to get on with life.

“There are kids in rough areas who really want to make something of their lives. It’s important letting them know Futureversity is out there for them, on their doorstep.”

Dizzee admits he was violent and disruptive as a youngster who had been expelled from four East End schools before settling down at Poplar’s Langdon Park where he was introduced to music—it was a teacher who first called him ‘Rascal’.

He began making music on the school’s computer and went to a music workshop during the school holidays run by Tower Hamlets Summer University, now known as Futurversity.

The annual programme for youngsters aged 11 to 25 includes free ‘taster’ courses and activities combining academic and vocational study, personal development and volunteering.

The aim is to help reduce street crime by raising youngsters’ aspirations, improving their confidence and self-esteem and breaking down social, racial and religious tensions in an area with the country’s highest youth unemployment at 25 per cent.

The charity is appealing for �10 donations by texting ‘FVST02 �10’ to 70070, or higher amounts online at www.justgiving.com/futureversity