The Wickers Charity
Supporting young people in Hackney
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Hackney's Bobby Kasanga nominated for top National Diversity Award

The Wickers Charity Manager, Bobby Kasanga was nominated for the prestigious Positive Role Model Prize For Race Religion and Faith at the National Diversity Awards night, at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

Kasanga is being recognised for his outstanding work with young people in the Hackney community. Following his release from prison in 2015 he established Hackney Wick Football Club to give the London borough its first ever semi-professional football team in over 100 years.

He later helped set-up the Wickers Charity sponsored by local property developer Henry Smith, the CEO of the Aitch Group, who aims to tackle knife crime and deter young people from life in gangs.

Reformed Kasanga said: “I’m absolutely amazed, surprised, overwhelmed and grateful for everyone who nominated and voted for us.

“This means so much to everyone involved, it shows what we’re doing is being noticed and I hope it inspires others to follow suit and go down the right path.”

Kasanga helps give children and young people the opportunity of training and playing senior football and now the club has a whopping 200 members across a number of youth sides. The young people have even designed the football shirts for Hackney Wick FC.

As well as the football, the Wickers Charity provides after school activities for children aged 10-18 at their community hub; including coding, graphic design and music production courses.

Kasanga added: “When I started Hackney Wick Football Club after being released from prison, I never thought the club and the Wickers Charity would have developed at the pace it has.

“This award isn’t about me though, it’s for everyone who has made this a real success story. The volunteers, parents, children, Aitch Group and the other football clubs who have supported us – this is an award for everyone.”

In addition to this Kasanga is also helping rehabilitate fellow ex-convicts, by going into prisons and encouraging people to turn their lives around when they’re released.

He said: “Whilst in prison I was planning what I was going to do after my release and that’s what I’m trying to encourage more people who are in prison to do the same– there are consequences for your actions but make the most of your time there. This is what makes our organisation so unique, we’re going into prison and making a difference.

“There’s about 3 or 4 people from prison who play for Hackney Wick FC’s first team. Before their release they got in touch, said they’d heard about the organisation and wanted to play to keep out of trouble.

“It’s given them a new focus, a new network, new friends and we can act as a point of reference. If they want to apply for a job, we can be the source of reference whereas when you’re first released you don’t normally have this kind of support.

“Football is a unifier, you can be the biggest baddest gangster in the world but as soon as you see a football it makes you feel like a child again and you want to have a touch of the ball.

“This is what we want we aim to implement in all our activities, such as the Street Tekkars programme we had over the summer, which attracted a host of young people from various surrounding boroughs.

“The next step for the charity is to just keep expanding, to be self-sustaining and to keep growing and helping others.”


Yvonne Martin