18 July 2012
Desmond Tutu visits inner city youth
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson, members of The Elders, a group of independent leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights worldwide, met young people this month on a north London estate to listen to their challenges and hopes.
The visit was organised in celebration of Mandela Day, which takes place today (18 July).
Archbishop Tutu told the young people: "It is important to remember that where you come from, does not determine where you end up."
Along with Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Archbishop Tutu met young people, volunteers and staff from the youth charity XLP to find out about the struggles and lack of opportunities faced by young people living in the inner city.
Mandela Day calls on people all around the world to celebrate Nelson Mandela's life and legacy by serving their communities and taking action to build a better world.
Patrick Regan, OBE, founder and CEO of XLP explained that he had realised long ago that "no single person or organisation can effectively address the complex challenges faced by vulnerable young people living in the inner city. Only by coming together and standing with each other can we expect change – can we give the next generation a fighting chance."
The XLP Community Bus project in Islington, where the visit took place, is one of more than 20 projects that XLP runs across inner-London where they engage with more than a thousand young people each week.
One young person told Archbishop Tutu: "I was told I'd end up in prison or in a dead end job." And it could have been even worse. XLP helped by providing a strong, consistent and positive role model mentor in his life that resulted in him staying in school, completing his education (he got all As) and now he has a rewarding job and hope for the future. It can be done. The charity's goal is to "create positive futures for young people and make a serious and sustainable impact upon poverty and educational failure".
Mary Robinson and Archbishop Tutu commended the volunteers and XLP staff and encouraged the young people to aspire to make a difference. The archbishop told Patrick Regan as they were leaving: "I am incredibly thrilled by all the things you do here at XLP and I believe that XLP makes God smile."