A community foundation in Brixton has been given a new space to operate by Lambeth Council.
The Dwayne Simpson Foundation, a community interest company, offers a range of services designed to steer at-risk youth away from gang culture – including boxing training sessions in hopes of enriching and building the community.
The new space will be used to teach cooking skills and hold other activities, such as arts and crafts.
The foundation was set up by CEO and pastor Lorraine Jones, 48.
She lost her son Dwayne, who worked to prevent gang violence in the area, as he was trying to stop a fight.
Lorraine said: “He created a business plan and it has grown in other ways due to the requests from young people.
“These young people are real champions to just walk through the door and work.
“We have never seen so much community spirit with the council and the police working more closely – we need to work together and the pandemic helped that; a lot more togetherness”.
The group were awarded with an MBE and a Prime Minister’s Commendation in 2017 for their work, and received the space after submitting their business plan to the council.
Anthony Aajon Paul, 28, youth manager of the foundation, said: “We are going to be teaching children how to cook and families how to cook, which helps build communication within households.
“Once you have a healthy mind and a healthy body, you have a healthy day.”
Anthony said: “The council saw our life skills, they saw the educational workshops we do, the kid and play toddler group, our gardening club as well.
“And we are going to do an Alzheimer’s date each week to get their moves in and basically try and remember their past in a good way – my grandfather has severe Alzheimers, and music and food is a way for them to remember.”
The foundation also runs various workshops to help improve the area which include liaisons with young people and the Metropolitan Police, Stop and Search workshops, and community fun days.
Anthony said: “We try and get a lot of police officers in, so they can basically train against the people in the community also, and that means embracing them.
“So at least when stop and search happens and when the police are involved, they know how to conduct themselves, and it is not a situation where God forbid someone gets injured or hurt, or even killed.”
Image credits: Dwayne Simpson Foundation