Brent Housing Partnership Youth Blog

Brought to you by the'Our Say' Magazine Team and BHP Youth Board



From BHP Youth Board to TV news

IMG-20170411-WA0006Today’s top story……BHP Youth Board member, Our Say writer and BHP tenant, Savannah Mullings-Johnson is set for a career in TV journalism after landing a prestigious apprenticeship with ITN (Independent Television News).

Savannah from Kingsbury, began a full time apprenticeship earlier this year with ITN which involves working across a range of their services including Channel 4 News, ITV News, and Channel 5 News. Our Say caught up with Savannah about what the apprenticeship involves, and what she hopes to achieve in the future.

Our Say (OS): How does the apprenticeship work?

Savannah Mullings-Johnson (SMJ):”Well it’s divided into three phases:
“Phase 1 involves shadowing journalists, moving across the whole business observing
the different roles.

“Phase 2 is the current stage I am in where you are expected to do more hands-on activity and take on practical roles.

“Phase 3 starts in September and will be the ‘specialisation’ stage. I will pick a role and department and that will essentially become my full time position for the last six months of the scheme. It is also likely that the job I choose will become my official position after the apprenticeship is over, therefore it is important that I pick something I enjoy.”

OS: What projects have you done so far?

Savannah picture with camera 2SMJ: “I have been involved in several practical projects. I have produced news stories and been involved in the whole process including finding guests, organising locations and ensuring the news items are completed in time. I have also had chances to research and been given the opportunity to teach myself how to edit.

“The exposure this placement has given me is invaluable as it means that I get to move across three newsrooms, as well as network with some of the biggest journalists in the industry.”

OS: Do you have to study as well?

SMJ: “I work five days a week, typically 9 to 5. However one of those days is spent
at college studying a Level 3 Creative and Digital Media course. All apprenticeships
must incorporate some form of studying.”

OS: What has been your favourite moment?Savannah with Charlene White

SMJ: “There has been a few favourite moments, but the standout one for me was when I met my idol Charlene White (BBC London news presenter) during my induction week.

Meeting her was such a surreal experience and she gave us all such invaluable advice.”

OS: What advice would you give to those wanting to break into the creative industry?

SMJ: “Get work experience! I cannot express enough how much this counts. One thing a lot of young people struggle with, including myself is actually getting the work experience due to how competitive it is. The best piece of advice I can give for that is make your own experience. For example I struggled getting experience with reputable companies so I began volunteering in local community roles that involved media like the BHP Youth Board, Radio Harrow to develop my presenting skills, writing for online magazines and started my own blog.

“It might be hard to essentially work for free but all great creatives have done it in order to get their foot in the door and develop their skills.”

OS: Where do you see yourself after the apprenticeship is finished?

SMJ: “It is hard to say because every day is a different learning experience and I am constantly discovering new roles so my mind always changes, but I can say that
my end goal is entertainment journalism so hopefully one day you will see me covering all the red carpets.”


Pakistan Community Centre: An excellent showcase of real community spirit

Pakistan Community Centre cropped

The Pakistan Community Centre (PCC) in Willesden Green is a voluntary and charity organisation set up in 1965 to help newly arrived migrant workforce with housing, employment and other local issues. PCC has been involved in various projects including the Homeless Project working with other bodies and organisations to provide shelter and food for the less advantageous. PCC is a great role model for the community and is an excellent embodiment of true community spirit. It helps the elderly, unemployed, youth, orphans and various other members of the community who need a helping hand. There is an active ladies group in the PCC hosting varying functions including health seminars and religious classes. In addition to this, PCC holds regular employment fairs seeing many businesses, firms and organisations provide employment to local people. PCC provides locals with legal and general advice as well as having good established links around the borough.

PCC is very proud of its culture and tradition. Every year it holds religious celebration events as well as debates, weddings, birthdays and conferences. Even the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan held a conference at the centre during his Mayoral Campaign. PCC organises and facilitates many events and provides a platform where community cohesion and integration is at the top of the agenda.

In February 2017, PCC under the Chairmanship of Tariq Dar donated 500 free tree plants to the public. The project highlighted the importance of the environment and how simple things can be done to make the world a cleaner and safer place.

Tariq Dar (Chair of PCC) said “It is an Islamic duty to plant trees and we feel strongly about environment which is why we did it. We put in the ingredients for flowering trees. We got pots and compost, seeds and instructions and put them in a bag the day before, we then handed them to the public the next day for free.”

Many young members of the community also regularly help. Young members of the community have helped raise funds for PCC, participated in various events and helped the committee through various community projects. We spoke to a few youths about their experience and one member described the PCC as a “valuable asset to the community which provides a sense of togetherness and helps the less fortunate members of our diverse community.” 

For more information on Pakistan Community Centre, please visit their website:

By Saqlain A Choudry,  17


My research experience at university

Linda studying

Getting work experience in psychology is a double edge sword – on one side, the degree is rather broad, so there is so much to do. For instance, a primary school placement. However, if you’re considering specialising in something like clinical psychology, it’s hell to get a specific placement.

Being a first year doesn’t help. It’s rather disorientating: being in a different city; doing degree level work and making new friends. Therefore, figuring out what I want to do with my degree, is just more stress and confusion on top of the work crushing me.

However, when a PHD student advertised posts for research assistants, I grabbed on to the offer. My initial task was to help recruit families for her study – a task, which I failed miserably in.

Luckily for me, I was given a second task to transcribe interviews she had recorded. After all, transcribing is much easier – right? Nope! Not when it takes five minutes for one recorded minute.

However, it gives me rather valuable insight to the world of research in Psychology; it’s hard work! Especially considering that transcribing data may even be the easy bit, compared to recruiting participants, collecting data and analysing it.

by Linda Moronfolu, 18

Working together to reduce youth crime

youth-crime-graffitiYouth crime remains a serious issue for both local and national governments. Although recently, there has been a decline in the cases of youth crime (The overall number of young people in the Youth Justice System (YJS) continued to reduce in the year ending March 2015: Ministry of Justice), it does still remain a problem. The YJS in England and Wales works to prevent offending and reoffending by young people under the age of 18. Compared to figures from March 2010, there are now 67% fewer young people who were first time entrants (FTEs) and the reoffending rate has increased (by 5.6 percentage points since March 2008, to 38% in March 2014).

But, what exactly is the government doing to ensure low levels of youth crime and also to ensure that the number one priority of the youth is safety? There are various prevention programmes that work to keep young people away from crime. They are run within local communities and can involve parents and families. One such example is the Youth Inclusion Programme which looks to give access to local services to help keep young people out of trouble. These could include more after school activities and one to one sessions with teachers or treatment for mental health programmes. Another such government led initiative is mentoring where a specially trained volunteer spends time to help someone. Some tasks could include job applications, social skills and doing better at school. Sometimes this can be more effective if the youth is shy, lacking social skills and prefers one to one treatment. Mentors are not controlled or connected to the police or schools. Another indirect way of reducing youth crime is through parenting programmes where the parents of the youth offenders are provided with positive parenting skills and strategies, which may help improve the behaviour in young people.

With the help and support of their parents and the local community, young offenders can drastically change their lives. I believe that changing the mentality and behaviour of the youth for the better, is improving the future of tomorrow.

by Saqlain Choudry, aged 17

Volunteering in Brent

I was fifteen and I had just finished my GCSE’s so I was blessed with an extra-long summer holiday. Initially, I was excited about making the most of the sun in its amiable mood. However, after a week, I found that having nothing that would take up most of my day was rather tedious. As a result, I decided that I’d throw myself into volunteering.Volunteering

The first thing I did was edit my feeble excuse of a CV (which at the point, merely contained my name, email and hobbies.) I then went to my previous primary school and asked if I could volunteer. I was given the role to help the children learn through play. This meant that for three weeks I built tall towers out of lego, sang nursery rhymes that I had long forgotten and listened to the children read one by one.

Unfortunately, the end of their term marked the end of my volunteering. However, I quickly moved on to Wembley Library. I had various roles including: encouraging people to join the summer reading challenge; data entry and helping out with activities. Admittedly, it could get really hectic but there was never a dull moment.

Most recently, I’ve volunteered at a food bank called Sufra. I helped out preparing food parcels for people though there are a variety of other roles. For instance, there are volunteers who help cooking for the soup kitchen and some who help regarding supermarket collections.

Why would a young person willingly volunteer? After all, it is leaving home – where wifi and food is – and actually putting in effort. The first reason is probably the one which most adults and companies will tell you. These days, just having the right qualifications isn’t enough – employers need proof that you can thrive in a work environment which volunteering helps to show.

Furthermore, volunteering need not be mundane and strenuous. With volunteering in some places, you get the opportunity to: push yourself out of your comfort zone and make friends and talk to people. For instance, at Wembley Library and Sufra I found myself engaged in so many interesting conversations with people I would not have conversed with otherwise. In addition to this, volunteering is a great distraction from all the ailments and problems of everyday life as your mind is engaged doing something productive – other than bingeing on TV shows on your laptop.

If you are considering volunteering, there is a plethora of choices. Why not try Sufra? They do speed volunteer courses occasionally. This requires no commitment on a weekly basis – you just turn up and help for the day. Also, it is worthwhile talking to people you know or going to your old primary school. Furthermore, Brent Libraries take on volunteers so try talking to a member of staff. Another option, is going to a charity shop such as Oxfam.

Overall, if you are about to reach your summer holiday, perhaps consider volunteering.

You can find out more information on volunteering on the website.

Linda Moronfolu

Our Say Spring edition out now

Check out the latest edition of Our Say Youth Magazine with views and interviews by the BHP Youth Board.

Our Say – Spring 2016

Our Say - Spring 2016

Volunteering has changed my life!

Saqlain Kids Run Free

I am totally committed to the concept of volunteering! I am involved in various projects, for example I have been a volunteer since November 2015 at Kids Run Free, a charity which aims to promote an active, healthy and happy lifestyle for children. They provide trained volunteers, equipment and an event card to track your progress.

I can assure you that the experience and journey so far has been one hell of a ride! I joined as a standard volunteer for my interest in sports and especially running. A month later I was promoted to Event Director and was leading a team of five with 20 plus children turning up to sessions.

I have definitely learnt some valuable skills from volunteering and charity work. Interaction, public speaking and confidence are few of many.

Kids Run Free have many venues, there is one location in Gladstone Park, Brent and has running events bi-weekly. There are events on the first and third Saturday of each month at 9am. You can see the Kids Run Free website for more details.

It really is a good and noble cause. You also can help volunteer or simply spread the word so kids in Brent enjoy a healthy Saturday morning instead of ‘playing on an iPad’ for example.

I would like to end on an important point. Volunteering isn’t only good for your CV but it helps self-confidence, belief and inspirations. You develop many life skills which helps you and your brain to develop.

So happy volunteering from me!

By Saqlain Choudry, 16

If you would like to get involved in volunteering with local organisations in Brent, then Volunteering Brent can help find you an opportunity that suits your interests and time available. For more information, contact Theodora on 0300 365 9920 or email You can also visit the Volunteering Brent website.







Mental health and young people

Mental health pic

The term mental illness is subject to a lot of misconceptions despite efforts to educate society about it. Feeling down for a couple of days is not depression and just because someone likes to be neat does not mean that they have OCD. Depression for some people is not being able to get out of bed because it is too much effort. OCD for some people is washing your hands until they bleed. Mental illnesses are brutal. They are not discriminative of age, gender, social class and culture.

Did you know that according to the Mental Health Foundation, 10 percent of 5 – 16 year olds have a clinically diagnosable mental illness? According to Child’s Trends, 10 percent of adolescents with mental illness have anxiety and 8 percent experience major depression. What is even more worrying about the high prevalence of mental illnesses in youth, is that recorded statistics may only be the tip of the iceberg as some people suffer mental illnesses in silence.

The causes of mental illnesses are not clear cut. Evidence suggests that mental illnesses are a result of the interaction between genes and the environment. People may have genes that make them vulnerable to developing a disease. Certain factors may enhance the expression of genes such as family problems, bullying and exam stress. However, the extent to which the environment and genes are culpable is debated.

Once upon a time, mental illnesses was dealt with in barbaric ways such as insulin shock treatment to induce a coma. What revolutionized treatment of mental illnesses, before the time of drugs was talking therapies. Research suggests that talking about problems may help to alleviate them. You do not have to talk to a therapist or a counsellor – talking to someone who you trust may make a significant difference. Also, exercise has also been shown to correlate with a positive state of mind. If you are a friend of someone who has a mental illness, what you could do is be there for them. You should not expect them to miraculously change back over night, but neither should you lose hope about their chances of remission.

The first step to dealing with a mental illness officially is going to the GP and explaining your symptoms. A doctor will diagnose you with a mental illness if you fit the criteria. Drugs to treat mental disorders are not usually prescribed for under 18 year olds because evidence had suggested they have an adverse effect. However, a GP is likely to refer a patient to a therapy.

Now in Brent, GP’s can refer young people from 11 – 21 years to the Brent Centre. Most of their services are on the basis that a young person is referred either by the GP or teacher. The services offered are psychotherapies which is the broad term for therapies that treat emotional and mental health issues. The Brent Centre has a lot of bases, including schools such as Preston Manor.

If you want to find out more information about what Brent Centre do and how you can locate them, please visit their website:

For more information about mental illnesses please go to the following websites:

by Linda Moronfolu, 17

A level too far?

As we get closer and closer to the freedom of the summer months, the holidays are still a distant dream for the many 17 and 18 year olds taking public exams this May and June. For many Year 13 students, a process over two years in the making will culminate this summer, with the results determining where students will go to university.

In the next few weeks there will be a mass scramble for coffee and revision guides as students everywhere attempt to consolidate hours and hours of work in time for five or six exams.

As a Year 12 student, thankfully my final exams are over a year away. However, this summer will mark one year until the first exams for the new A levels. For those who don’t know, for many core subjects such as English, Chemistry and Physics, the AS qualifications will have
no influence on the final A level grade, which will be based solely on exams or coursework completed in the second year. Despite this, schools like mine, are still making their students take them in hope of preparing us for the real things. It is a surreal experience to be the ‘guinea pigs’ for such a huge change that could lead to a huge number
of retakes after Year 13. This could make it harder for some students to get into university or could lead to an increase in the acceptance of students to top universities as grades are now worth ‘more’.

The importance of the exams will add an extra layer of pressure and expectation to already stressed and lethargic teenagers.

In the past, you could ‘mess up’ your AS and redeem yourself at A level. However it seems that students don’t have that luxury now, something which scares a lot of young people. For the next year and a half, revision and testing is a leap into the dark as only on
results day will you know if it paid off. Good luck to all those completing their A levels this
summer and to those in Year 12, see you in August 2017.

Samara Roach-Keiler, 17

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