YOUTH EMPOWERMENT charity The 4Front Project has launched an appeal to raise funds for the funeral of one of its “most powerful advocates”, a 17-year-old boy who was killed in a road accident earlier this month.
Jahiem Legister-Hall, a mentor and youth worker at 4Front, which works to support young people and communities to live free from violence, had been riding his moped when he was hit by a car on September 1. He died later in hospital.
Imani, 23, one of Jahiem’s three older sisters, described him as “a light of the family” and “an abundance of joy”.
“He was always putting everyone first, always making everyone smile,” she told The Voice.
His family, devastated by his sudden loss, have also been confronted with the challenge of raising the money needed to lay him to rest.
Appeal for support
A Go Fund Me page has been set up by 4Front on behalf of Legister-Hall’s family. A target of £12,000 has been set to cover the costs.
Speaking to The Voice, The 4Front Project’s managing director Temi Mwale said: “He was like my little brother, to be honest. Anybody that knows him will just tell you [about] his charisma, his energy, he was so bubbly, positive. It’s impossible not to laugh when he was around. He’s absolutely hilarious and so impressive, so mature for his age.”
In addition to the appeal for financial donations, Mwale is also encouraging those who can offer printing services for the programmes and counselling and bereavement support for those affected by Jahiem’s death to come forward.
“He’s left behind so many young people that have been devastated by his loss and we want to be able to support them so we’re appealing to councillors, therapists, bereavement support services to work with us in partnership to support his immediate friendship group in the foreseeable future as well as his family – in particular his young brother who’s only 14 and really needs the help,” Mwale said.
Imani said the entire family was “very distraught and confused” by Jahiem’s passing and kept waking thinking he would come home but also spoke of the specific impact his death had on her young brother.
“My youngest brother Jay-mi loved bikes so [Jahiem] and Jay-mi would always be out in the garden fixing bikes so that Jay-mi could go and ride,” she said.
“He’s just a bit lost and confused right now as to where he goes because he and Jahiem were close as brothers so it’s like he feels like he’s alone,” she added.
Just before he was killed, Jahiem had applied to work at Thorpe Park. Despite not knowing if he would be offered the job, he was extremely excited at the prospect.
“That’s all he talked about after his interviews – ‘I’m going to work in Thorpe Park, I’m going to start making my own money, I’m going to start helping mum out’. He just always put everyone first,” Imani said.
After his passing she checked his emails to discover that he had been offered the role.
Jahiem’s popularity and impact on many young lives was evidenced during a memorial service held for him earlier this month. Tribute t-shirts, 100 of which were sold to raise funds for his funeral arrangements, were snapped up by those wanting to help. Around 300 people turned out to remember him and show their support for his loved ones.
“We had made 100 t-shirts so 50 white and 50 black. By the time I even got to the memorial, they were all sold out and people were asking for more,” Imani said.
Some of the young people that Jahiem worked with were so moved by his death that they spoke in front of the crowd about how much he meant to them.
“I never knew he touched so many people. Even though it’s a huge target, I don’t necessarily concentrate on the fact that it’s a large amount – the £12,000. I’m literally just grateful and thankful people are even donating because the whole world doesn’t know him but the whole world feels like they know him, in a sense, where they just want to help,” she added.
Honouring his legacy
Jahiem, who spoke in parliament about solutions to youth violence, was instrumental in the creation of 4Front’s 4Mation campaign. The project’s priorities are to advocate for a health based approach for young people and families affected by youth violence to access mental health services, therapy and counselling.
“Those priorities have been influenced by him. He was involved in shaping that work and also [advocating] against the negative impact of the criminal justice system on young people’s lives and for us to move away from those enforcement based strategies and focus on healing and health, which is what we will be doing to honour him as his legacy to try and create systemic change,” Mwale said.
The organisation, which Jahiem’s sister described as her brother’s second family, also plans to pay tribute to the teenager who loved travelling with a special grant.
“We really want to set up a travel fellowship, like a grant for young people so that they can explore the world and do a project that has a positive impact but be supported through funding to do that – and we would name it after him,” Mwale said.
To support Jahiem’s funeral fund, click here.