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Spotlight birthday celebrations highlight the need for youth services in Tower Hamlets


The director of Poplar HARCA’s youth service has highlighted the growing need for a strong, local youth provision to tackle child poverty and inequality at its fifth anniversary event on Thursday 7th November.

Speaking from Spotlight’s state-of-the-art flagship centre during National Youth Work Week, Daniel Rose called for positive role models and creative opportunities which empower young people to feel acknowledged as key to counteracting the life-changing impacts of child poverty in Tower Hamlets. The London borough has the highest child poverty rate in the country according to The End Child Poverty Coalition.

Rose said: “We believe that London is an inspirational place to live, but recognise that, for a number of young people, there are barriers that result in them not achieving their full potential. Spotlight, Tower Hamlets’ biggest youth service provider, offers a free programme of creative and sports activities which have been accessed by more than 10,000 young people over the last 5 years. Our work bringing in professional partners, such as Apple, to build skills, confidence and empower young people is helping to re-write the narrative on what they can achieve.”

Spotlight provides young people with a safe space to explore their identity and reach their potential with guidance provided by an inspirational team of youth work professionals. When surveyed, 92% of the 11-19 year olds Spotlight has worked with said the youth service has made a difference to their lives.

Fahim Faisal (17), a member of Spotlight’s Youth Committee whose successful ‘Wash out Hate’ graffiti campaign was covered on BBC News, said: “I have come a very long way from when I first started here almost a year ago. Now, I am buzzing with confidence and to top it all off I have won two awards! This would not have been achieved, without the support of my youth worker.”

Skye (17), a singer-songwriter said: “[Spotlight] really pushed me and levelled up my confidence. It has taken me further as an artist and has introduced me to the whole industry. Through the opportunities I have made loads of friends with the artists as well, and knowing that everyone looks out for each-other is quite reassuring, especially if you’re on stage by yourself.”

Spotlight’s 5th anniversary celebrations were led by youth workers, including Dizzee Rascal’s hype man Aaron ‘MC Scope’ Williams, with incredible performances from international dance company IMD Legion and grime and soul artists DiamondSkye and Edweezy from Spotlight’s in-house record label Spotlight Sounds. Artists from the label have previously appeared on BBC Radio 1Xtra and All Points East. 

Williams said: “Spotlight offers our young people the opportunities to channel their experience in their everyday lives through positive methods using the creative arts. Especially in light of the negative stories that dominate the media today about London’s youth, enabling young people to use their voice is what’s important”.

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“[Spotlight] really pushed me and levelled up my confidence. It has taken me further as an artist and has introduced me to the whole industry."

Skye, 17, Singer-Songwriter