Joy writes ...

This term Urban Hope Friday evenings have been full of challenges, as our girl’s club works towards earning a weekend in the countryside. Over the last few weeks they have tried brand new foods, eaten bugs and made teddies all in the name of the ‘residential’.

Last weeks challenge was to turn Urban Hope into a restaurant. The girls did themselves proud, putting together a three course Mexican themed meal, decorated the halls, served the food and did (most) of the cleaning up! Their families and friends came and supported them (taking photographic evidence of the girls washing up!) and everyone ate together.

All term the group have been rising to every challenge put in front of them, sometimes with fear, sometimes with resignation but always with determination to succeed, and each success has been celebrated, not only by each other but by their communities. And each successfully completed challenge is confirmation of the fact that with help, they can do things that they never thought they could.

Which is one successfully completed challenge for me!

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Spencer asks ...

“How good are you at Fifa skill games? But not on your console, in real life!?” This is the challenge we have given the young people on the Colville estate.

Every Tuesday and Friday we head down to a football cage in the centre of the Colville estate, Hoxton with our hand made football targets and an open challenge to show how good you are at real life Fifa skill games. If you’re not sure what this is the idea is to hit all four targets setup in the goal in, “This is so easy, watch!”, is often the reply from new challengers. We’ve found it such a good way to break the initial contact barrier with young people we haven’t met before, also it seems to encourage those we already know to brave the cold and come out and kick a ball around.

The football cage is visible from the flats on the estate so some of the young people can look out of their window and see us play. Over the winter period to have a football and hot chocolate wasn’t always enough to bring people out of the homes, however the targets have given us an edge over the cold weather.

Some people say that young people don’t go and outside and play as much as they should these days, why would they with game consoles, Facebook, YouTube etc.Perhaps a challenge for youth workers today (especially those who do detached work) is to find and create different ways to make outdoor play fun, interesting and challenging!

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Piri Piri Chicken with Wedges and Coleslaw. Everyone was really happy with how this turned out, especially as there was plenty of chicken to go about.

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100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we made Roast Chicken Pesto Pasta. The young people enjoy shredding up two roast chickens for the meal. One of our serial chicken shop frequenters even put off her visit in order to eat with us.

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 5

27 February 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we cooked the classic Chilli Con Carne. Whilst many people tried it there was a general consensus that there wasn't enough chilli! Some people had their first taste of avocado; there were mixed opinions. As ever we strive to bring new experiences to the young people, using food and other means.

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Being positioned around the corner from Essex Road’s busiest chicken shop presents a challenge to us here at Urban Hope.

Not only do we have our wastepaper bins overflowing with fried chicken boxes which housed the post school snack of ‘wings and chips’ but our computer keyboards and furniture is often covered in a film of grease from the multitasking hands of the children and young people who come along to the daily activities here at Urban Hope. These are obviously minor inconveniences and don’t match the concerns we have about young people’s diets which read like the menu of ‘Mississippi Fried Chicken’. Research tells us that the appeal of the 305 fast food outlets in Islington is the price, taste and convenience along with the social dynamic of sharing food with friends.

Whilst Islington council said in 2012 that they will look to “ban the setting up of new fast-food outlets within 200 metres of a primary or secondary school’, there are no similar plans related to youth projects. Here at Urban Hope we have a long tradition of teaching young people to cook nutritious and tasty meals within a tight budget. Some of them have gone on to find careers in the restaurant industry but most are now simply able to tell us about meals they have cooked at home for parents and siblings using skills learned at our cooking sessions. Not only do we cook together but there is an emphasis on sitting down and sharing meals together. It’s often in the context of a shared meal that we are able to provide emotional and other practical support to children and young people. We have found that with the support of local donors we are able to provide young people with meals that rival the appeal of fast food whilst providing a family mealtime feel.

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 4

20 February 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

With the great success of the chicken curry a few weeks ago we branched out and cooked a Lamb Pilau. This again went down well with some enjoying the change from chicken. However, even when the young people know what we will be cooking they still visit the Chicken Shop (and have curry later). Our mission continues...

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 3

14 February 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week we cooked a North African Chicken Tagine with Couscous. It was another thumbs up, especially for the honeyed crispy skin and the smokey harissa sauce.

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Chicken Shop Wars, Round 2

30 January 2014

100 meters from our front door is the local fried chicken shop. Each week we'll pit our meal cooked by the young people against it.

This week a spicy Keralan Curry does battle with the Chicken Shop.

The curry went down very well, as it always does. It brought to the table some of those who don't normally eat with us, which was great. We even had a bowl of chopped chillies for those who want to increase the heat. A few brave people tried them raw; must remember to have yogurt on standby next time!

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Space+place at Urban Hope

30 January 2014

At Urban Hope we're committed to exploring the most relevant ways to connect with and support young people.

On Thursday February 20th we're hosting a seminar led by Bob Mayo, Sam Adofo and Ben Bell, asking how in an increasingly virtual world we connect with young people relevantly.

Click here for more information

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