Nearly one year on from the riots, and with the eyes of the world turning to London for our moment of Olympic glory, we have fantastic news to report.
All your generosities at the time of the riots raised so much money that we were not only able to refurbish Aaron's barber shop and bolster him a bit with his loss of earnings, but we had enough left over to help others in the Tottenham community as well. It was Aaron's wish, (and our delight) that we support projects for young people, showing that youth are far from the enemy, but the future that needs nurturing.
We have worked with the fabulous Kay Horne of Business In The Community (BITC, and pictured below with Aaron) to find recipients for the money that were appropriate. Kay has been tirelessly supporting the regeneration of Tottenham since the riots, and her BITC role will take her through until March and hopefully longer. She's a smiley face that the people of Tottenham have come to trust and love, and almost as much of a local celebrity as Aaron!
So it was with great pleasure yesterday that we met with Aaron at the shop, and hosted representatives from the projects we have chosen to benefit from the funds - sharing more than £10,000 in fact. They are:
The Highway Youth Club at Bruce Grove Youth Club - this is a Dinner Club that feeds disadvantaged kids in the area and keeps them off the streets with loads of forms of entertainment. It makes sure they are set up properly to embrace their futures. Aaron spent his entire childhood in a youth club called Oxford & St. George's in the Jewish East End, that provided everything for needy families, and he has a strong belief in it giving him the best start in life and skills he needed to survive.
The Dandelion Project is a young citizens' journalism project, which we chose because of the media connections to the Keep Aaron Cutting Project. We wanted to show that youth and social media could be used positively for good, and the Dandelion Project has the same aim. Their kids are going to come down and do a piece on Aaron. (And they also shot some great photos yesterday, so we'll upload those here when we get them.)
The People's World Youth Club is an organisation that helps kids focus their energies through creativity and self-expression & exploration of the world and its cultures. We were very attracted by a project that helps kids focus their talents around working together to create. People's World are hard at work on their Carnival float right now, which will be creatively themed around the riots of last year.
And next week, Aaron will attend a lunch at a week-long event being held at his beloved Spurs football club for young entrepreneurs, run by NTYE, which is the Network for Teaching Young Entrepreneurs - the organisation gives young people business skills to work for themselves, as Aaron has done since he was 12 years old.
As you can see, Aaron was on great form, speaking Ghanian with Pastor Alex from Highway, and full of stories to relate to Fiona, the young journalist from Dandelion. And he's definitely looking forward to visiting Spurs. As ever, the shop is open for business from 6am-12:30pm Monday to Saturday, and business in Tottenham is still slow (you might have seen Aaron on BBC's The One Show on 20th July, with other Tottenham traders and residents), so we'd encourage you to visit for a haircut. You'll be very much welcomed, without a doubt.