Somali support group founders win Mayor’s award

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Two young Somali men who set up a support group to help their fellow countrymen in Islington were among the many deserving winners at the Ben Kinsella and Mayor’s Civic Awards, held at the Town Hall last Thursday.

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Omar Abdulahi and Amin Hussain, both 25, started with a group of around 30 young people aged 12 – 20 and, through their commitment and energy, have now built a community of more than 300, many of whom have been in the country less than a year.

The objective of the group, known as Jubba after a region in Somalia, is to help members keep off the streets and focus on developing themselves through activities such as football, prayer and peer-mentoring. Omar and Amin were honoured with a civic award, presented to them by Anna Berent, the Mayor of Islington.

Talking about founding Jubba, Amin said: “So many Somali people come to Islington, but struggle to find support in the community. We set up Jubba to engage young people and introduce them to friends. We meet three times a week and play football, have a meal and talk about anything they want to talk about.

“I hope winning the award will encourage more people to come and join the group.”

The annual awards ceremony recognises people who have made a significant contribution to community life in Islington and this year featured the first ever Ben Kinsella award – named after the local teenager who was murdered in June 2009.

The inaugural winner of the award was Benita Dafe, a 15-year-old from Highbury who set up a series of school assemblies to discuss issues such as knife crime and making the right decisions in life.

Benita’s endeavour and belief were typical of all the award winners, according to one of the event’s organisers.

Ruth Polling, Liberal Democrat councillor for Islington Council, said: “This ceremony shows how many truly amazing people there are in Islington, many of whom never get any recognition. Tonight is about them and about giving something back.”

Photo Credit: Peter Evans