4th Day of Christmas

Streets of Growth was founded in 2001 following a Sir Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship backing Tower Hamlets resident, Darren Way. Starting off in Bromley-by-Bow, the small organisation soon expanded and is now borough-wide active in Tower Hamlets with the mission to transform the lifestyles of young people who are struggling to develop. Streets of Growth engages both hard-to-reach individuals as well as young people that aren’t considered sufficiently at risk and thus fall through the gaps of social services.

It was at the end of November that we made our way to Tower Hamlets to visit Diane, CEO and Co-Founder, as well as Koyes and Majeda, two Youth Coaches to discuss the role of community groups in improving the lives of young Londoners. When asking what makes the Charity so important, Diane replied: “We make an effort for young people until they can make an effort themselves. Setbacks and relapse  is normal and part of the transitioning process, it is not a linear path to success as young people will start a programme but may get angry, may get arrested, go through chaotic moments due to family, peers, don’t show up and have to be outreached and reengaged many times over but they will over time succeed and make positive changes” It is this intricate combination of personal and trusting coaching relationships and belief in the individual that makes Streets of Growth so vital.

Here’s the story of Raj:

Raj is a 19-year-old young man who, after losing both parents aged 14, became involved in gang violence and drug dealing. Excluded from school, he left with few qualifications. Hiding behind a ‘street-wise’ persona he was lost, grieving and could not see a future.  The Streets of Growth Youth Coaches (YCs) first contacted him in January 2016 through consistent, relentless outreach. It took three months to gain his trust, with Raj sometimes being non-responsive and even aggressive but over time building trust. Through this intensive coaching process YC worked with Raj to enroll on the Bridging programme in April successfully completing BTEC Award, a work experience placement and two enterprise challenges. During this time, his attendance was positive and behaviour and attitude improved, although his drug-use and drug dealing remained an issue.  Throughout this YC continued to work with Raj outside the normal programme hours supporting but also challenging when Raj behavior is harmful and destructive to himself and others. In October, he was caught with cannabis by the police. He told his YC the same day, a breakthrough showing he was reflecting on his situation, values and motivations. The YC, used the incident as a leverage point around consequence and action, and helped him to develop an further action plan of change.  From this, Raj committed to finding employment, eventually securing a full-time retail position He remains in employment no longer being involved in drug-use or drug dealing. "Streets of Growth gives young people like me the belief we can do better."

* Name changed