Ilford businessman launches funding arm of project to keep youths off street corners

Youngsters and organisers together at the launch of I am Young youth project, Ilford.

Youngsters and organisers together at the launch of I am Young youth project, Ilford. - Credit: Archant

An Ilford businessman aiming to get youths off street corners and into business launched the new funding arm of the I Am Young (IAY) project.

Kabir Ahmed is funding the project and trying to ensure it is self-sufficient by renting out office space at a building in High Road, Ilford – a scheme he calls Work Rest and Play (WRP).

WRP hires desks to local businesses, allowing them to work together in an environment that is “conducive to entrepreneurship”.

The facility is not just for work though as members can escape their desks and take advantage of punch bags, gaming zones and DVD libraries.

Founder Kabir Ahmed said: “You only have to walk to the high street to see boarded-up shops and kids hanging on street corners: the two go hand in hand


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“By launching IAY and WRP we want to give back to the community and provide a framework for both youth and business growth.”

Mr Ahmed previously went to businesses to try and get funding for IAY but had little success. “We realised not everybody wants to sponsor us so I started WRP and rented out 80 per cent of the place. All profits go to funding IAY,” he said.

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Mr Ahmed refused to apply for government funding for the youth scheme.

He said: “By the time you wait for the grants, the fire in your belly has gone.”

Demand has been high and there are plans to add up to 480 more desks to the existing site.

The High Road office doubles as a youth centre through which IAY is delivered, with dance classes and recently a day event which taught teenagers how to design websites.

The launch event last month was attended by Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, local businesses and youngsters at the High Road building.

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