On Wednesday I dropped by the Sparkplug awards before our midweek campaign session.
It was a happy and buzzy occasion with dozens of young men and women getting awards from Lib Dem Mayor Anna Berent, for completing courses with Sparkplug. Sparkplug is an innovative project that gives young people who may be at risk of crime the chance to work with motorbikes, getting good experience and working towards a formal qualification.
Its objective is to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour while increasing self-esteem and employability among its members. Certainly the young people I spoke to were full of enthusiasm and pride for what they’d achieved.
Sparkplug are going from strength to strength. They are getting new premises, still next to Bingfield Park, funded by the developers of the old William of York school site. So even more young people can benefit in future.
The Sparkplug awards were just one of a trio of events celebrating Islington youth that I was able to attend in the last few days.
Last week, with Cllr Ursula Woolley, I was at Islington Central Library for the Jubba youth achievement awards. Jubba Youth Community Association do fantastic work with young people of mostly Somali origin – running football teams, drama groups and more. It must have been one of the hottest nights of the year, and there we were at the top of the building, under the glazed dome of the roof… the young men were in their best suits, even a couple of tuxedos in the house, but while we were certainly ‘glowing’ there was no dampening of our enthusiasm. (There’s always a fuss made of 4th July, but did you know 1st July is Somali Independence Day?)
Then on Monday this week, I was off to the Olivier Theatre at the SouthBank to support Islington Youth Theatre. The young people put on their production of the play ‘Success’ by Nick Drake, in a non-stop show featuring drama, singing and dance, all on the topical theme that losing money doesn’t matter, as long as you have love. They were chosen from amongst hundreds of other youth theatres to perform at the National Theatre as part of the prestigious New Connections Festival 2009.
As well as putting on a fantastic production, the young people had to fundraise to take part. I’m one of the ‘Success Shareholders’ who helped them reach their goal. And it was great to have a front row seat on the night, to enjoy the superb singing, dancing and acting. I was really impressed by the confidence and maturity of the performers.
Islington Youth Theatre does such excellent work and I was delighted to help sponsor the show: like Jubba and Sparkplug, they have all done Islington proud.