Momtaz from LiC
So Momtaz, tell us a bit about yourself.
I am originally from the Aberfeldy estate where I grew up, I’ve lived and studied in Tower Hamlets most of my life.
What does LiC stand for and what does the organisation do?
LiC stands for Leaders in Community, we are a youth led charity based in Poplar but have a London wide reach. We support young people with leadership and management opportunities to help them gain employment. A core part of our work is getting young people involved in decision making processes locally to them, in doing so they gain notable skills for employment.
How was LiC started?
LiC Started with a group of local young people coming together wanting to create a space for young people to access. Having had little opportunities in their area, the group started to make some noise and was eventually noticed by Poplar HARCA. We grew into a network of young people who all shared a vision to speak out about young people’s needs and issues, particularly around employment opportunities, accessing services/resources and most surprisingly peer led support. We started to make small changes in our estates and over the years this grew. We now offer services for children and young people from 4 years to 25 years.
What were some of the challenges for you when LiC started?
There were many challenges when LiC started, we needed somewhere to meet. We needed capacity support and needed the right person to steer our vision forward and T the same time meet the young people and offer support. We also found ourselves growing far quicker than any of us imagined. We were meeting young people on a daily basis with no proper base, structure or procedures. We started without any formal registration or training for the volunteers- that’s right we were all initially volunteers!
What is your role with LiC?
My role now is the projects manager of the organisation. I oversee all programme activity as well head up our strategy team.
What do you think of Poplar? What was it like growing up in the area?
Poplar is very close to my heart, it really is a place I call home, but it’s wasn’t a pretty place when I was young- it’s far nicer to look at now. I remember a lot more high rises, not so pleasant parks, and a lot of unsafe areas where children used to place. One of my earliest memories was how dangerous crossing the Abbott road used to be. I think Poplar could benefit from better facilities that are also open in evenings, shops, play areas. I do like the physical changes, I like the sense of community here, I’ve lived outside the borough for 9 years and I’ve never had a sense of community anywhere else.
The area is changing a lot at the moment. Do you have any opinions on that?
The change in Poplar for me is good, our young people want to belong to an area they feel they can all home, they can be proud to talk about to others. There are still issues in some neighbourhoods that needs to be addressed- but I know organisations like ours are working with others to address some of those issues.
If Poplar had a slogan, what would it be?
‘People and Spaces’. Because it’s about the people that live here, their homes, their lives. Like me many people want to be proud of the space and the people in it. I’ve made a life in Poplar, we should all be able to do that.