Young people's work celebrated

RISE project participants

Over 30 youngsters from East London received an early Christmas present when a party was held to recognise their achievements and inspiration to others by St John Ambulance.

The event was held at Glaziers Hall in London Bridge on Monday 21 December and saw a presentation of certificates as well as dance displays, drama productions and a showcase of what the young people have been working on over the last year.

On the RISE

Certificates were given to 16 to 25-year-olds from Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest who are part of the charity's RISE project. This initiative encourages those not in education, employment or training to learn new life skills, such as first aid, as well as get involved in peer to peer learning by advising and acting as mentors to other young people.

Before starting on the RISE Project, I was involved in some gang activity and needed a new change. This is what St John Ambulance offered me.

Jack Mason
RISE member, Newham

Jack Mason, aged 18, from Newham, was one of the young people involved in the scheme who received an award. He said: 'Before starting on the RISE Project, I was involved in some gang activity and needed a new change. This is what St John Ambulance offered me.'

A choice

Explaining his background, Jack said: 'I trained in martial arts for several years and I wanted to fight professionally. I talked to a friend about this and I was introduced to some people whom, little did I know, were in a gang. They invited me to train with them for a fight, and when I arrived at this training it was, to my shock, in a warehouse where illegal fights took place. This is where I got propositioned; either fight or "something bad would happen".'

'I decided not to give up my passion for sports but that I would capitalise off my situation by launching Fit Firm. Through this I would teach young people that sport is an amazing thing that can inspire and motivate. It would also keep the young people from going down the same track I was eventually forced into. The St John Ambulance RISE Project has helped me develop Fit Firm and there is a lot of work ahead but I feel the sky is the limit for me, Fit Firm and all the young people it will help.'

Pride in young people

Ruth Jalloh, Senior Youth Development Officer, Community, at St John Ambulance, said: 'We are so proud of the young people involved in the St John Ambulance RISE Project, some of whom have overcome complex obstacles many of us will never experience. The dedication and commitment from these young people deserves to be celebrated and this is what today's event is all about.'

Most of the young people in the RISE Project joined after learning about St John Ambulance through a one-day training event known as Stick It. Delivered to young people by young people at venues such as youth clubs, this project raises awareness of knife and gun crime and teaches young people who live in areas with high crime rates the first aid skills needed to save a life. The project was recently nominated for a Children and Young People Now award.

Anyone interested in joining the St John Ambulance RISE project or having one-day training in the form of Stick It should contact email the RISE team.