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Black role models recruited

THE RIGHT PATH: Ray Lewis, driving force behind Capital Men and Mayor Boris Johnson at the launch

HUNDREDS OF men have signed up to act as positive role models to young black boys to combat the negative influences of the streets.

The scheme, Capital Men, is funded by London Mayor Boris Johnson and has already attracted 1,700 volunteers happy to fill the gap, left in some cases by absent fathers.

The University of East London will manage the project after winning a £1.3million contract with City Hall with Melvyn Davis, of the Male Development Service, as project leader.

Speaking at the launch event in Leyton, east London, Johnson said: “I want to reach out to those who may fall prey to the lure of gangs and violence and place them with positive, hard working males who can help guide them.”

It will target black boys aged 10 to 16 who statistics show are the group most vulnerable to getting involved in, or falling victim to, violent crime.

Mentees from seven high-risk London boroughs will get face-to-face time with their mentors for at least two hours a week as they work towards achieving goals.

Aaron Harriott, from east London, 17, who was able to turn his back to gang life and go on to gain his GCSEs, backs the scheme.

Harriott, now signed to Stevenage Borough FC and working towards a sports-related BTEC, said: “The reality of life in east London is that as you are growing up there are older people who are actively trying to recruit you to sell drugs. You might not want to go down that road, but sometimes it can feel like that’s all there is. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. My mentor was that person for me.”

The project is the brainchild of Ray Lewis who works closely with Johnson. He said “It is easy to criticise our young people who behave badly, but unfortunately some have never been taught right from wrong. Mentoring is a real solution.”

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