We're in this together, say Blackburn young leaders

Lancashire Telegraph: Blackburn Tigers Girls Football Team gather for their first training session at Blackburn Youth Zone. Blackburn Tigers Girls Football Team gather for their first training session at Blackburn Youth Zone.

BLACKBURN Youth Zone is a melting pot that the rest of the town could learn from, its staff and members say.

The £6 million state-of-the-art facility in Jubilee Street, welcomes people from all cultures and backgrounds.

Young Leader Aeman Afzal, 19, from Audley, said the racial and social cohesion at the Youth Zone was much better than in the wider community.

He said: “We have been out there marketing Blackburn Youth Zone and one of the comments was it would just be for one group, or face, or stereotype, but we get so many different groups.”

The Lancashire Telegraph is campaigning to raise £60,000 in order to train 100 Young Leaders, who will be trained to improve their communities.Aeman said: “When people come here, either when they’re a junior or senior, the Young Leaders work with them and help them understand that racial cohesion is really important.

“Blackburn Youth Zone has a community with no segregation. People play together and share music and put on events. That just shows how cohesive it is.” Chief executive Peter Little said: “We attract young people from right across the community. The opportunity is there for young people to do things together, and to understand different cultures, and more importantly, understand what they have in common.

“The Young Leaders launched an initiative looking at understanding different cultures, and that was them saying, ‘this is an issue and we want to do something about it’.”

Head of youth work Neil Sewell,moved to the area from London. He said: “One of the first things I noticed is how separate the community is in Blackburn. One thing we have always wanted is an oasis in the desert. There are no territories or boundaries here.

“Any young person in Blackburn is welcome, and part of what is good is that the team is also diverse in its make-up. But the young people have taken on the mantel themselves as well.”

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