Select Page

First Aid for Life are privileged to be working with this inspirational Project (where my nephew and his wife volunteer too);

We have tailored a course to cover the necessary topics for working in this area: the course will be taught by a hugely experienced ex-firearms squad policeman and private protection officer and will cover; stabbing, gun shot wounds, glassing, drug and alcohol abuse as well as all the essential First Aid at Work topics.

We are thrilled to be working with this Project.

Standard Online

A youth worker and dance teacher are transforming a Bow estate blighted by poverty. Anna Davis reports

New direction: youth worker Alex Hall and Richard Doherty, who teaches dance

Published: 07 March 2014

If you want to order a pizza on the Lincoln Estate, you are out of luck. Delivery drivers refuse to set foot in the area. Gangs of youths took so many of their motorbikes — using bolt cutters stolen from fire engines — that they started turning up in cars instead.

But when the teenagers began stealing the pizza straight from their hands as they tried to deliver it they left and have never been back. “There is so much poverty here because anyone who makes enough money gets as far away as possible,” said Richard Doherty, who grew up on the Bow estate. The 22-year-old is one of the few of his peers who have not moved away or been to prison. Although they can see the gleaming towers of Canary Wharf from their windows, the residents feel no hope of ever working there.

“Most of the time the area smells of weed,” said Richard. “Drugs are a big problem. It’s very blatant. You just walk around and you can smell it. Even when you can’t see people around you can smell weed.”

This is the estate that youth worker Alex Hall, 27, has chosen to make her home. She moved from Sheffield and made the remarkable decision to live on the estate herself so she can work more closely with the community.

Ms Hall now lives with her husband on the same street as Richard and his mother and between them they are making real changes to the area.

She works for the charity Eden Bow, based in All Hallows church, which sits at the centre of the Lincoln estate. With help from the Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund and Sport Relief, it provides mentoring, short courses, drop-in sessions and self-esteem and relationship courses for young people who live there in an attempt to prevent them from joining gangs.

Once again, Sport Relief has chosen the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund to be a major beneficiary of its activities, which includes a night of TV fundraising on March 21 and a weekend of sport at the Olympic Stadium, including the running of the Sport Relief Mile on March 23.

Ms Hall has committed to staying on the Lincoln estate for a minimum of five years to help bring about long-term change. She said she dreams of it no longer being “the place you want to get out of when you have made your money”, adding: “I want it to become the place you love being and where you want to bring up your kids.”

She added: “I would love to see a real shift in young people owning their community and not being scared. We would like to see young people on police ward panels and on housing associations having a say in the community and feeling it’s a place worth being.

“We would love to see young people completing college and going into jobs they love, not wanting to run off somewhere better, because this is a good place.” She added that despite being close to Canary Wharf, and on the route to the Olympic Park, many young people feel cut off from those areas.

“All my team happen to be white and we were working with Bengalis, and one guy said ‘I want to be like you white guys because you go and do things’. For him all the white people go off and work in Canary Wharf and he is stuck in this place. We talk with them saying it is not true, there are mixed people all over the place. But they feel this is somewhere they can’t escape, that they can’t work in Canary Wharf. We want to change that and challenge that perception. We can help them get apprenticeships, we can help them get to those places if that’s where they want to be.”

One project that is making huge waves in the community is Embrace Dance, which Eden Bow supports. Richard Doherty helps run the group, which offers free dance training to children on the estate.

When he was a boy the closest he came to the church was climbing on its roof, but now he gives dance lessons inside it. He said: “The classes are so much more than keeping people off the streets. Parents appreciate what we do so much. We did a show in Canary Wharf and some of them had tears in their eyes.

“They can’t believe how much better their kids are at school and how well behaved they are at home. They say ‘I don’t know what you do here but just keep doing it.”

The dancers describe themselves as a family, and if one person is slipping behind at school or getting into trouble on the estate they are swiftly pulled up by the other members.

“People don’t understand how dance is not just about dance. It lives with you. Everywhere you go dance is there. It is in the way you conduct yourself. You get to a point where you need to be professional,” Richard added.

Some of the dancers have the chance to earn money by coaching. Speaking about one young man, Richard said: “I gave him his first pay cheque at end of November. It was only £80 for a couple of classes but you should see the smile on his face. I said ‘you earned that — no one can tell you what to do. You don’t have to look over your shoulder for the police. That’s your money.”

Richard’s role as choreographer of Embrace Dance is a far cry from his experience as a child growing up on the estate. He saw his first dead body at the age of 10 — the victim of a shooting — lost friends to stabbings and has himself been beaten up.

At one point things were so bad that he avoided going out. He said: “We were always in our mates’ houses, we weren’t out on the street. It got to the point it was easier to stay indoors. That was the way it was for four years from the age of about 12 to 16.”

Things have already started changing in the area, and rivalry between groups from different postcodes is dying down. Richard said: “There was a time when it was ‘don’t go out unless you really need to, you don’t know what’s going to happen.’

“I teach in the Isle of Dogs now but two years ago I couldn’t set foot there because I would have been killed just because I come from this area.”

His work is making such an impact on the estate he has been nominated for an Inspiration award in the Urban Hero awards, run by the Eden Network charity. Ms Hall said: “There is a lack of male role models and we feel Richard is brilliant at that.”

Like her, he is committed to the Lincoln estate. This is where he grew up and he is determined to help change it for the better. He said: “I am proud to be part of this community because, without all the stupidness, this is a good area to live, it really is.”

The Eden Bow charity

What they do? Started in 2011, Eden Bow works with young people at risk of or involved in anti-social behaviour to raise their hopes and aspirations.

Amount received from Comic Relief and Dispossessed Fund: £20,000

Where: Eden Bow focuses on the Lincoln Estate and the young people in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

How the grant was used: to run an intervention and prevention programme, providing positive skill-based activities for 11-16 year olds. This includes street dance classes, rap workshops and studio time, trips and drop-in youth sessions.

Related posts:

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

Burns, Falls and Emergency Calls

Claim your FREE book

RRP £12.99

(just pay for postage and handling)

Emma’s second book, Burns, Falls and Emergency Calls, is heralded as the ultimate guide to the prevention and treatment of childhood accidents.

Claim Now - before they're gone!

You have Successfully Subscribed!