The Wickers Charity
Supporting young people in Hackney
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Mayor's donation big hit with Hackney Wick FC

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan put on his shooting boots attending a training session at Hackney Wick F.C. – a unique football club committed to transforming the lives of youths in Hackney and surrounding areas.

Mayor Khan is giving £10,000 to the club through his Young Londoners Fund, and he witnessed first-hand the fantastic work they are doing in the local community, in a bid to tackle knife crime in London.

The Mayor got stuck into some of the coaching drills at Mabley Green Park, who was then later presented with his own official Hackney Wick F.C shirt, whilst Local MP Meg Hillier was there to cheer him from the sidelines.

Mayor Khan said: “It’s so important to grapple with this issue of knife crime, (it) effects communities that not only was I was born and raised in but that I live in. Literally a stone’s throw away from my home, a young person lost his life, so I’m fully aware as parent, of the consequences of young people thinking it’s okay to carry a knife, thinking it gives them a sense of belonging, thinking it’s cool and that’s why we need to be supporting clubs like Hackney Wick F.C.”

The mayoral investment will be helping run the "Street Tekkers" programme this summer put on by Hackney Wick and its charity arm, the Wickers Charity, who will specifically work with young people in gangs or those who have been in the criminal justice system.

Hackney Wick FC and the Wickers Charity have a strong ethos based on community engagement. Bobby Kasanga, founder of Hackney Wick FC and centre manager of the Wickers Charity said: “I would like to thank Mayor Khan for supporting the fight against knife crime in Hackney and all over London.

"The Street Tekkers initiative is something we have been planning for some time and we hope that it encourages familiarity between youths from different communities and helps to put an end to post code wars.

“We will be running a full football programme five days a week during the summer holidays and we want as many youths to take part as possible.”

The Mayor highlighted the importance of prevention in tackling the root causes of violent crime, and warned that government cuts have led to reductions in youth services across the capital, failing young people

Mayor Khan said: “For many young Londoners growing up, particularly those from deprived and disadvantaged communities, there are often key crossroads in their lives. And without the necessary support and direction at these crucial moments, they can take decisions and paths that not only harm their own future, but negatively impact the rest of society.

“I know this all too well from personal experience growing up on an estate in south London.  I knew people in my community – with great talent and potential – who took the wrong path and ended up going to prison.

“The truth is this could have happened to many of my childhood friends.  But we were lucky.  We were supported and given opportunities to get into things like boxing, football and other youth activities.

“As Mayor, I’m doing all I can and I’m funding a range of initiatives over the summer months and beyond, including sports activities.

Yvonne Martin, operations manager for the Wickers Charity, who are sponsored by the Aitch Group, said: “We are joined at the hip with Hackney Wick FC and our aim is to help reduce knife crime by educating our young people about better life choices.

“This is a great opportunity for the local community to pull together for Street Tekkers and we would like to thank the Mayor for believing in us and supporting such an important cause.”

Brian Akintokun, Community Development Director of Hackney Wick FC said: “What is unique about our club is that we are always finding new initiatives to fight the issue of knife crime. Whether it be hosting the charity football match  - United Against Knife Crime  - the Street Tekkers, or  matches in prisons, to our London wide initiative next year the 32 Borough Cup, it shows we think outside the box.”

Photography by Gary Morrisroe

Yvonne Martin