Options 4 Change (O4C) works with disadvantaged children and young people, their families and local statutory and voluntary organisations to change minds and lives for the better.
With young people, O4C uses one-on-one mentoring techniques and coaching to influence positive peer engagement, and community programmes designed to provide alternatives to dysfunctional lifestyles. The organisation also runs activities to help adults develop parenting skills and holds community seminars to raise awareness of the impact of exclusions on academic achievement.
O4C was founded over 13 years ago by Donna Sinclair. She is a regular media contributor and discussant on the issue of the disadvantaged in London.
Why was O4C founded?
The organisation was founded 13 years ago in response to the failing social care system, particularly in Lambeth. Our primary purpose is to advocate for the marginalised in society.
For some, it’s difficult to understand that there are so many people in need in the capital. What’s the extent of deprivation in London?
The thing is there is a ‘hidden world’ that we just don’t see. You have a sub-population of individuals who are destitute with no recourse to any form of assistance. Often people with fixed-term leave to remain may or may not have recourse to public funds and as a result they live here without being able to afford their basic needs like accommodation and live a life of destitution.
They are often the ones that will do any kind of work to make ends meet too. This kind of situation makes people extremely vulnerable. For example, you will have those that have no legal status in this country; though they may take steps to change that, they simply cannot afford the astronomical sums they are charged for the process of legalizing their stay.
The question on everyone’s lips: what is the reason behind this crisis of violence in young people of colour?
There are so many factors. Children and young adults involved in gang-life and dysfunctional lifestyles are often failed by multiple support systems including parenting, education, social care and housing.
What do we do?
As a community, we need to start seeing all of these young people as our children. When we do that – we develop a true sense of responsibility that drives us to take and demand action. We are paying taxes in this country so we have a right to ask that our needs are addressed.
Next, we must make children feel safe. We also need to bring people together, families together. We can put on family days. Get families out in a park so they just connect and enjoy each other.
The church must also be more visible. They could lead in making a public statement that we recognise what is happening, that we are hurting and that we acknowledge that hurt. After that, the church can start their own programmes to support the community.
We must all do something because enough is enough.
For more on Options4Change go to: http://www.options4change.org.uk/
55 Leigham Court Road