Olivia Devereux-Evans speaks to some of the people behind an Edmonton youth charity
An Edmonton charity tackling gang violence through free workshops and educational support is inspiring a new generation of teens.
Northside Youths and Community Connections (NYCC) was established in 2008 after a surge in gang violence in the area. The not-for-profit youth-led organisation discourages teens from joining gangs and also helps them to leave gangs.
One of the staff members at NYCC, Cynthia, explained: “My kids grew up in the area and luckily for me they have not really been involved in that side. [But] so many of the kids are involved in it.
“It is about trying to bring them back and show them that there is something better out there. You do not have to go out there and be in a gang. You do not have to be on the street corner. You have got role models out there that you can look up to.”
Alongside gang prevention work, the charity, based in Edmonton Green Shopping Centre, runs an outreach programme, job and activity workshops and offers parental support. The organisation relies on volunteers, with demand increasing for services because of the lockdown. NYCC has remained open throughout the last year, offering support and activities for young people in the centre.
Volunteers also began a new project called Project Code, offering online activities for teens while they have been at home. NYCC founder Chris McCoy said: “There has been increased demand. Our main message is that young people can do anything they put their mind to.
“A lot of the time they get told they cannot do something. We work with young people to empower them to take a lead on activities. They co-run activities on the programme.”
Staff have also drawn up plans for a new media centre to be built in an empty building within the shopping centre. They aim to create a space allowing videos and other creative media projects to be undertaken. New projects are also in the works, including fitness workshops on Zoom and an animation masterclass, while a blog with information on issues such as teen mental health.
In order to do all of this, NYCC is fundraising. Chris added: “We work in Enfield, Haringey and Barnet but we have kids from across London using our services.
“We work with people from different ethnic groups, we work with anyone. It is about inspiring and making change.”
Project Code is open to any local teen who needs support or guidance. NYCC co-marketing manager Íris Santos said: “It makes a change in them and the community around them. They are making something for themselves and for the community.”
For more information about NYCC and Project Code: