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Doing something tangible about problems youth face

INSPIRATIONAL: Hebe Foundation founder Aime Beharie

CONTRARY TO what people might think, there are many organisations working with young people.

The Hebe Foundation is one of them, and it is gearing-up to celebrate its 10th anniversary with a gala ball in central London.

The charity is run by Amie Beharie, the operating director and founder.

It aims to help young people – whether they be of Christian faith, other faiths or have no religion at all – develop new skills, increase their self-confidence and fuel them with the belief that anything is possible.

Beharie, 40, launched The Hebe Foundation in 2007, at a time when youth violence and knife crime were both very much making the headlines. She recalled:

“I was doing youth work for different organisations, and I was really a little bit bored with the way we were doing it. We were just ticking boxes instead of really impacting and developing young people.”

She added:

“My cousin was also heavily involved in the gang scene, so I spent a couple of years in and out of the police stations. With these things compounded together, God had been giving me ideas on just how to do youth work and I thought, ‘let’s try and do something different'."

So, in 2007, Beharie kicked-off the Hebe Foundation with a musical about gangs called Gone Too Far. Many of the young people Beharie worked with then were either on the periphery of crime, or felt they were being stereotyped as gang members because they were young and black. Gone Too Far, written by young people, aimed to dispel that myth. The play was performed in four baptist churches to great acclaim, received media coverage – including a write-up in The Voice – and saw Beharie realise that her idea could really work.

Now, 10 years later, Beharie, who attends Clapham Baptist church in south London, is an acclaimed youth worker with 25 years' experience behind her.

She has been recognised with a Point of Light Award from the Prime Minister and a Wise Women Award given to outstanding Christian women.

The charity Beharie founded now helps more than 800 young people through various initiatives. She said the project aimed to teach them how to feel prepared for the world of work – and much more.

“I felt the young people were not prepared for work or to set-up their own businesses. A lot of young people come on the project with little confidence, low self-esteem and are apprehensive," she added.

“We work with them, and by the end of the project the youth are running with it and learn they have skills that they never knew they had, go places they never thought they could go in to, and start to think, ‘I could have a career like this'.”

The charity regularly invites successful achievers like CEOs, entrepreneurs, doctors and lawyers to give inspirational talks to its young people to fuel their aspirations.

Over the years, the Hebe Foundation has also received support from leading businesses and grant funding organisations.

Beharie, who also works as an actress, welcomes the opportunity to help young people develop their gift and talents and prepare them for future success. As far as Beharie is concerned God is the inspiration behind the project and He is the one that helps the charity to do what it does.

Looking ahead, she has big plans.

“I want us to be working consistently outside of London, so I want to branch out and ultimately do some overseas projects. I don’t want it to be a case of doing something for people abroad, but rather our young people gaining knowledge and experience by working abroad, which will ultimately go on to benefit others and give them the life experience they need.”

For more details on the Hebe Foundation, click here.

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