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Young Black Men programme: Council apprentice says kids need role models in world of work

PUBLISHED: 14:26 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:26 24 November 2017

Thaddaeus Brown. Picture: Sean Pollock

Thaddaeus Brown. Picture: Sean Pollock

Sean Pollock Photographer

A documentary maker and design apprentice at the town hall says he wants to be a role model for young black men in Hackney.

Thaddaeus Brown may only be 20 himself, but he is determined to play a key role in the town hall’s flagship new Young Black Men programme, and has signed on as an inspirational leader.

The project aims to tackle racial inequalities that blight the lives of young black men by bringing together health, education and voluntary sectors – as well as parents and the youngsters themselves – to improve opportunities.

Thaddaeus, of Homerton, believes the lack of role models is a major issue for kids, and a big reason they turn to gangs.

He says to improve things, young black men need to see people like them succeeding in life, and not just in sports or music.

“For this programme to work they need to see young black men themselves as identifiable figures in these organisations,” he said. “The main reason they join gangs is a lack of positive role models.

“The professional world is a very middle-class environment – there’s not many black people. There’s nobody that looks like them or talks like them. They need to have a greater understanding of what they can do.”

Thaddaeus is now producing a documentary about the issues and is intending to go into schools to chat to kids about the options available to them that they perhaps didn’t know existed.

He also thinks the negative media portrayals of black kids, or “youths”, does nothing to help matters.

“It just means you have to try and distinguish yourself more,” he said. “You have to work double time and be conscious of yourself at all times. We are all very conscious of that and try to navigate around it.”

As reported by the Gazette last week, the programme is the brainchild of deputy mayor Cllr Anntoinette Bramble.

She said: “We are at a time now when enough is enough; it is time to start saying we do not accept negative media portrayals and poorer outcomes for young black men.”

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