London: New course for Muslim female youth workers

London: New course for Muslim female youth workers

Via the Guardian:


Today, Hassan is 26, and she's a youth worker at the Froud Community Centre in Manor Park in east London, providing today's female Muslim teenagers with exactly the sort of support that wasn't there for her. "And the thing is that it's a lot harder for them than it was in my day," she says. "There are so many issues for young people today – sex, abortion, drugs, alcohol. All issues it's very, very hard for Muslim teenagers to sort out, girls especially. So I think youth workers like me are more needed than they've ever been."

Hassan has worked at the Froud Centre for the last three years, but over the last year, her work has been enhanced by a level 2 certificate (equivalent to GCSE) in youth and community work. To get that, she took part in a course designed specifically for Muslim women, believed by its organisers, the east London social action charity Aston-Mansfield, to be the first of its kind in the UK.

The six-month course, which is partly funded by Barclays Capital and aimed at Muslim women over the age of 21, involves three hours' tuition a week, delivered at the YMCA George Williams College in Canning Town, east London, and a minimum of 80 hours at a placement in a youth setting, which students have to find for themselves. "By the end of the third course next year, we hope to have provided around 50 new youth workers, all Muslim women," says the course tutor, Firzana Khan. "Almost all of them will go into or remain in youth work – and for some, the qualification will lead them to go on to a degree, and to perhaps eventually train other youth workers."

Khan estimates that around a quarter of Newham's residents are Muslim, yet Islamic youth workers are seriously under-represented – women especially. "It's to do with social and cultural pressures, and it's a real tragedy that there aren't more Muslim women youth workers, because it means there aren't enough role models for Muslim teenage girls, and that's what we're hoping our course can change. Many teenagers in Newham have mothers who grew up in Asia, in very different cultures, and with very different aspirations. We want to help today's Muslim youngsters through a set of choices that's very different from the set of choices their parents had."