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Camden News - By TOM FOOT
Published: 6 August 2009
From left, Amir Miah, Habib Miah, Raqhib Islam, Josh Elgiali, Ibrahim Mantele, Sophie Bell, Rachel Gates.
From left, Amir Miah, Habib Miah, Raqhib Islam, Josh Elgiali, Ibrahim Mantele, Sophie Bell, Rachel Gates.

The Town Hall refused to give children on an estate £5,000 to fund a bike maintenance project... so New Journal readers stepped in

TWO generous donors have promised to dip into their own pockets to save a bike-fixing school for teenagers – after reading about the sad collapse of the project in the New Journal and the council’s stubborn refusal to support the scheme.
Officials and councillors at the Town Hall refused to release the £5,000 needed for the scheme on the Regent’s Park Estate in Euston.
It is aimed at keeping youngsters out of trouble in one of Camden’s most deprived neighbourhoods, teaching them how to get involved in cycling and bike maintenance.
Experts train up teenagers with new skills, almost like an apprentice scheme.
This week, in a tale to warm hearts across the borough, two readers said they would step in where the council had failed to help the youngsters on the estate.
An 83-year-old former youth worker from Belsize Park and a 35-year-old investment banker from Camden Town both contacted the New Journal after reading about Raqhib Islam and Amir Miah’s misfortune in last week’s issue.
The two donors, who did not want to be named, have offered £3,500.
Teenagers sitting on Camden’s Youth Council – which is not related to the ?party politics of its adult equivalent – has agreed to use its spending money to make up the shortfall. “I am so excited,” said Raqhib, 14. “I was really depressed when we got rejected.” Amir, also 14, said: “When I heard I started jumping and shouting. I thought this was a joke. I’m really happy.”
Under the stewardship of youth workers at the Surma Centre, the youngsters will use the cash to buy parts and tools, hire a lock-up in the estate and pay for an expert to teach teenagers how to fix-up their bikes and about road safety. They will receive official qualification certificates that can go on their CVs.
Police have agreed to donate impounded bikes on the condition they are fixed up by the boys.
The Belsize Park donor, an elderly woman who has worked for a number of charities including Save the Children, said: “It seemed so stupid when you hear all this talk about the problems with teenagers. There is so much young people can do – it is so wrong that they shouldn’t be given the money.”
The 33-year-old man from Camden Town, a former pupil of Hampstead School, said: “I think this was a great idea and it should be supported. I grew up in West Hampstead and I did a lot of cycling. I’m an investment banker and guess I wanted to give something back.”
In an email, he added: “I am prepared to pledge half the required amount, £2,500.”
Axel Landin, from Camden’s Youth Council, 18, said: “The cabinet has unanimously agreed to support £1,500 funding project from our youth council budget. I think it is highly inspirational that these young people got together to do something clearly worthwhile that will benefit the community in Regent’s Park.”
The two donors and some youth councillors are set to meet with the Regent’s Park bike kids to talk about how they will run the project. The funds will be held by the Bengali Workers Association in the Surma Centre in Robert Street.

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