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International Youth Day: ‘Ilford youth club teenagers – they’re our future’

PUBLISHED: 13:08 12 August 2015 | UPDATED: 13:08 12 August 2015

Liam Newton, 18, at Loxford Youth Centre. Picture: Ajay Nair

Liam Newton, 18, at Loxford Youth Centre. Picture: Ajay Nair

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The manager of a youth centre has spoken of the rewards reaped by helping Ilford’s young people in the lead up to International Youth Day (today).

From left to right, Loxford Youth Centre senior manager Amanda Graham, James Gill, 17, and Isaac Harvey, 20. Picture: Ajay NairFrom left to right, Loxford Youth Centre senior manager Amanda Graham, James Gill, 17, and Isaac Harvey, 20. Picture: Ajay Nair

Loxford Youth Centre manager Micky Peacock, 53, said the most rewarding thing about his job is when “young people come and say thank you”.

The centre in Loxford Lane, Ilford, offers youngsters sports programmes as well as music courses and access to an £80,000 professional music studio.

Micky, from Chingford, who has worked at the centre for eight years, said: “We have targeted workshops, for example with young people that have been excluded from school. We do quite a lot of targeted work but it’s very broad too.

“It used to be the naughty ones that came here, but I’ve had to remove that label and get the community and parents to believe that it’s a safe place for all young people.”

Liam Newton, 18, at Loxford Youth Centre. Picture: Ajay NairLiam Newton, 18, at Loxford Youth Centre. Picture: Ajay Nair

Micky said the biggest challenge facing Ilford’s young people was the “negative” influence of their peers.

“Peer pressure is a big influence on them and that could be in a negative way,” said Micky.

About 300 young people between 13 and 19 are members of the centre, which has everything you would expect at a youth club – spaces to socialise, football tables and a working kitchen.

Centre senior manager Amanda Graham said: “I’ve worked with young people for 25 years.

Isaac Harvey, 20, at Loxford Youth Centre. Picture: Ajay NairIsaac Harvey, 20, at Loxford Youth Centre. Picture: Ajay Nair

“Most kids are doing the best they can in difficult situations,. A lot of young people get a really hard time and people aren’t very tolerant of them – people expect the worst.

“They’re our future and I think it’s important that there’s places like this, that are safe, where they can do what they want to do.”

One of the big successes at the centre has been the music studio, which costs youngsters just 40p for a session, with industry professionals also running music production and songwriting workshops.

“It’s been quite popular,” said Micky.

James Gill, 17, at Loxford Youth Centre. Picture: Ajay NairJames Gill, 17, at Loxford Youth Centre. Picture: Ajay Nair

One of the studio’s users, beat-maker Isaac Harvey, 20, from Ilford, said young people should be “grateful” for the programmes offered at the centre.

He said: “I’ve been coming here for about two or three years now. It gets me out of the house and I get to do some music production – I like to make grime and dance music.

“It’s a really professional studio and not that many people really know that it exists.”

He added: “There are definitely good things about Ilford and people should be grateful for youth clubs like this – there should be more places like it in Redbridge.”

Loxford Youth Centre manager Micky Peacock. Picture: Ajay NairLoxford Youth Centre manager Micky Peacock. Picture: Ajay Nair

Liam Newton, 18, from Barkingside, another young person making use of the centre’s music workshops, said he would “just be sitting at home” if it wasn’t for the studio.

“You make new friends here, we have a laugh and we make music – and I get to see what their music is like and we learn from each other too,” said Liam, who has been coming to the centre for the past three years.

Another youngster James Gill, 17, said of his experience making music at the centre: “It’s the hope that you can give someone enjoyment through your music.”

To volunteer or take part in sessions call 020 8478 4306. Visit bit.ly/1htp5QX to find out more about the programmes on offer.


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