Foley's mission to brighten lives of bored youngsters

ABOUT eight years ago, a record producer with his own label decided to set up his own charity to help young people locally, and he s never looked back. Rap-Aid, based at Howard Hall on Norton Way South in Letchworth GC, is the brainchild of 37-year-old Fo

ABOUT eight years ago, a record producer with his own label decided to set up his own charity to help young people locally, and he's never looked back.

Rap-Aid, based at Howard Hall on Norton Way South in Letchworth GC, is the brainchild of 37-year-old Foley Adigun.

Foley, who now works with a team of three people, said: "I must have been about 29 or 30 when I decided to start my own charity, to see what we could do to benefit young people.

"It was an eight or nine-month process to get charitable status and, because it took so long, we were able to concrete our ideas.


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"Charity really begins at home so we decided to do something in Letchworth. We realised there wasn't anything round here for young people, nowhere for them to go.

"In Letchworth town centre, during a holiday period, there were less incidents of theft in shops because we were doing a DJ project at Plinston. It was a natural progression to do something again and again and again. We used to bump into young people who would ask us what we were doing next and I felt it a matter of social responsibility to provide something for the young people. From then on it's just grown."

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At Howard Hall, Rap-Aid provides a music recording studio with a sound booth, a cyber cafe, a games room with table football and a pool table, and a sofa-seating area with a widescreen TV. It can cater for a total of 32 young people at any one time, from 4pm to 10pm, Monday to Friday, and from 10am to 10pm on Saturdays. Each area is supervised by two adults.

Foley said: "There are a lot of children and young people-based activities in the building. We give them the ownership and then it doesn't get vandalised. It's about constant dialogue with young people."

Rap-Aid also provides football training three times a week and is in the process of organising a festival for July.

Foley said: "Originally we worked with 11 to 19-year-olds. Now we work with nine to 19-year-olds because we are looking at separating age groups. We can't put them in the same environment because you would get bullying. It's about managing a whole heap of relationships.

"There's so much diversity. That's why I love it so much. Each day is different and it's never boring in work. It's so much fun and work should be fun. It keeps me young, working with young people.

"We also know we are helping set up a community which our children are going to grow up in.

"A lot of people moan and complain about things but don't do anything about it. It's one thing telling people not to get involved in crime or drugs, but you need to give them an alternative.

"In doing something you sometimes have to stick your neck out. I wear my heart on my sleeve and battle for young people. It's hard graft but it's fun because each and every day is different.

"It's about knowing that what we do with young people means they can benefit from it. It's for people who don't get listened to. Someone has to be there, fighting their corner.

"The best thing about our work is the difference we make in individuals, seeing someone grow and what they go on to do. It's heart warming. We need to be grateful for the young people we have got in Letchworth because we have good kids."

For further details on Rap-Aid call 01462 671700 or log on to www.rap-aid.com

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