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‘Young people need us to help them’

SUPPORT: Nathan John addresses an audience

ONE PERSON who is doing his best to positively impact the lives of young people is Nathan John.

A qualified accountant, he is founder of Y-E-L (Youth Enlightenment Ltd) a social enterprise that supports and inspires young people.

Y-E-L recently celebrated its fifth birthday, and John, a Christian who serves as assistant pastor and youth pastor at New Cross Apostolic church, is very proud of its achievements.

These include working with over 3,000 young people, delivering innovative projects with leading organisations, including the BBC, Barclays and Lewisham Council, and being recognised for its innovative work with youth by the Queen.

John, 28, was inspired to start Y-E-L for a number of reasons.

He said: “I grew up seeing how the absence of a positive male role model can influence the choices young black boys make. When I started Y-E-L there was a string of young people being killed by guns and knives. I was also aware of other challenges facing some young people, such as the lack of educational achievement, drug abuse and unemployment."

"I felt a strong calling from God to contribute to the solution of some of the issues facing young people. Dr Martin Luther King’s leadership during the Civil Rights Movement encouraged me to go beyond the church pulpit to make a greater difference in society.”

ROLE

Y-E-L not only supports young people, John has served as their media voice, articulating their cares and concerns.

The role came about by accident. In 2007, John responded online to a BBC story about a youth murder, stating that he was being emotionally impacted by gun and knife crime and wanted to set up a programme to help young people.

Soon after a BBC researcher invited him to speak on the Jeremy Vine show about absentee fathers. The following day he was invited to comment on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC News 24. Since then, John has been interviewed over 200 times in various media.

It’s a role he relishes. “I feel committed to being a voice for the voiceless, and to challenge the views of the general public that young people are just mindless thugs with no chance of being saved,” he says.

A married father of four children, John is thankful for the opportunities he has to inspire and give young people hope. He believes the church is uniquely placed to assist them. “Young people need us to help them. Those of us that are strong should help the weak. Those of us that are rich should help the poor.

“Some of our youth lack knowledge and skills to progress, and they need us to share what we have. The riots last year showed us the damage a small neglected and frustrated group can do!”

John has big hopes for Y-E-L’s next five years. “The five-year plan involves us developing an even stronger team across the UK, who are equipped to deliver projects effectively in the areas that they are located,” he said. “I would also like for us to have started working internationally, using the knowledge and capabilities gained here.”

If Y-E-L’s achievements so far are anything to go by, there should not be any problem reaching these goals.

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