Colin Lee-Own runs a digital hub for young people in Edmonton
Unemployment levels in Edmonton are among the highest in London, with jobs that are available often offering insecure, unreliable and low-paid work.
Colin Lee-Own wanted to do something. Two years ago he established a social enterprise, 21K Digital Media, with the aim of equipping young people with the skills they need to start successful, fulfilling careers.
A former soldier who served in Northern Ireland, Colin wanted to give something back to Edmonton. He told the Dispatch: “I loved the Edmonton community spirit growing up in the 1970s, but it is now one of the most deprived areas in London and that breaks my heart.
“We had local manufacturing industries and jobs were plentiful, but that has changed and knife crime has become a real problem.”
In 2019 Colin approached Sabri Marsaoui, asset director at Edmonton Green Shopping Centre, about providing facilities for young people. Sabri offered him a disused premises which Colin turned into a digital media hub kitted out with IT equipment.
“Sabri has been very supportive to us – he is a hero to me for what he is doing,” says Colin. “The premises was a bit derelict but we got some donations to create the hub.”
A £5,000 grant from Comic Relief enabled Colin and his team of volunteers and freelance tutors to deliver a three-week introduction course on digital marketing at 21K Digital Media Hub this year, followed by a six-week workshop with career planning and support. Six youngsters completed the course and one, Danladi Roach, recently started an apprentice job at a TV company in Holborn paying £24,000 a year.
Thanks to this success, Edmonton Green is now sponsoring another workshop programme this autumn and also providing work experience for eight unemployed people. Colin said: “We want to change young people’s mindsets – if they can do an apprenticeship and get some kind of work they can change their lives.
“We work with them on interview techniques. We want to get them into high-powered jobs like digital marketing and programming. There are so many opportunities out there, but you need the skills. My target is to get 100 young people into apprenticeships before I retire.”
This article is the latest in our ‘Enfield Community Heroes’ series, sponsored by Edmonton Green Shopping Centre. Dispatch readers are welcome to nominate their own local hero – someone who has gone above and beyond to help support the local community. Simply email your nomination to [email protected].