Tower Hamlets youth worker on lack of funding for vital services

Nahim Ahmed

Nahim Ahmed has been made an MBE - Credit: Spotlight

A Tower Hamlets youth worker has spoken out about a lack of funding for youth services after being made an MBE by the Queen.

Nahim Ahmed, 31, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his outstanding contribution to youth services over the past decade.

“It was a beautiful moment. It was on Eid day, I was in the mosque, I’d just finished Eid prayers. I couldn’t believe it,” said Nahim.

“I’m a young person who comes from humble beginnings, I was brought up in Tower Hamlets myself. I suffered as a young person from various issues, I didn’t do well in my GCSEs, I failed miserably.

“Growing up I had really bad experiences... crime, gang violence, youth violence.

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"Close friends, if they were not dead, they were in prison or lost their life due to mental health. They didn’t have the right support. When I lost my close friend to reckless driving, everything changed for me. It was a big wake up call.”

“I want to build a better future and not just for myself, for the people around me as well. Especially the young people.”

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In a bid to turn his life around, Nahim went to college and retook his GCSEs while working three jobs, before starting a degree in youth and community work in 2009.

Since then, he has dedicated years of work, both voluntary and paid, to help disadvantaged young people gain access to better opportunities.

“Youth services are the gateway for poor young people to know about certain opportunities. For example, mental health, sexual health… all these services. If we don’t connect with disengaged or disadvantaged youths, young people will never know about what opportunities exist.

“We’re the bridge for them. And if we don’t go to them, they won’t necessarily come to us.”

Nahim is now juggling a UCL masters in strategic management on a £20,000 scholarship from the Aziz Foundation alongside his job working with 11- to 19-year-olds as Spotlight youth and community engagement manager at housing sssociation Poplar Harca.

Nahim Ahmed speaking with Mayor John Biggs

Nahim Ahmed speaking with Mayor John Biggs on the importance of outreach and building trust - Credit: Poplar Harca

“One thing that bugs me the most is there’s a lot of funding cuts. I’m looking now for different ways we can make a sustainable future where young people don’t lose out. Hopefully the MBE is going to give me a platform I can use in a positive way."

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