'You can't solve crime with a sticking plaster,' says charity chief

Rashid Iqbal MBE, chief executive of The Winch

Rashid Iqbal MBE, chief executive of The Winch - Credit: Rashid Iqbal MBE

A Belsize Park youth charity chief wants his MBE to raise awareness of young people’s struggles and create momentum for campaigns tackling them.

Rashid Iqbal, who runs The Winch in Winchester Road, a charity which supports young people from “cradle to career”, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours.

Take Back the Power session at The Winch

Take Back the Power session at The Winch where ceo Rashid Iqbal has been made MBE for services to young people in the Queen's New Year Honours - Credit: Rashid Iqbal MBE

He was recognised for services to children and young people, after an anonymous nomination.

"I've stopped looking [for the nominator] to be honest with you, because I think it's like a Secret Santa really," Iqbal said.

"I'm just grateful that someone from outside The Winch’s immediate network has recognized the work that we do and I think that's just a lovely way to start the year."

He added: "Really it's about raising awareness of what young people are struggling with, rather than me navel gazing too much about it.

“At some point, young people still need you to get back to work."

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Iqbal emphasised the greater need for community support following Covid and the "cost of living squeeze" saying: "What the pandemic did was accentuate and entrench inequality."

The Winch is currently working with partner schools to mentor  disadvantaged young people at risk of exclusion.

"Hopefully we can keep young people in school," Iqbal said, discussing the short and long term detriment of exclusion. "There’s a strong link with school exclusion and crime, knife crime in particular."

Despite The Winch’s progress, Iqbal said: "That can't be, and never will be, sufficient to replace what the state can do over a sustained period of time.

“You can't solve knife crime with a sticking plaster. Sanctimonious sandbags by politicians can't replace sustained investment in social infrastructure for young people.

“One thing that's missing nationally in terms of government is a lack of leadership around young people's issues beyond school."

"Young people don't only live in school. And schools don't serve all young people brilliantly."

He added: “We've got brilliant young people in Camden and they need just the opportunity and support that they deserve to chart a positive future for themselves and their families and their communities.

“The Winch exists because of the generosity and support of local people. If your readers want to support the winch further, then we'd love them to be involved to donate to get behind this."

Visit thewinch.org

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