A woman who grew up in a London neighbourhood blighted by gangs is urging young people to ignore negative influences in their community and pursue a career.
Hackney-born Maryam Olajide , who is a probation case manager, hopes her story can inspire others her age to steer clear of crime and make positive life choices.
The 25-year-old says: ‘Drug and knife crime was just a normal part of growing up.
‘Hearing about people being killed on the street was a tragic, but regular thing.
‘I didn’t want to end up like that so I made a decision to make something of myself and I haven’t looked back.’
Maryam graduated with a degree in Community Sector Management and Law from London Metropolitan University.
She says: ‘Part of the reason many go off the rails is because they see crime as the easy option. They need to believe they can do more.’
Maryam believes the problem is exacerbated in school, when teachers don’t believe in their students.
She says: ‘There was a general feeling among pupils in school that the teachers didn’t think we would ever achieve anything, which can really damage your aspirations.
‘If you’re labelled as a failure by enough people, you start to believe you are one.
‘The problem for many people is shaking off those negative stereotypes because if you hear something enough times, sometimes you can begin to believe it.
‘It’s about motivating yourself and saying, “I am better than this.”’
With Fixers, Maryam has helped to produce a film on the issue, which she hopes to share in youth clubs and local schools.
The short piece is loosely based on her life growing up in Hackney and encourages those from similar communities to avoid the temptation of crime.
Watch the film at the top of this page.
‘Nobody should shy away from talking about these topics. Hopefully young people will see my story and be motivated to make a change,’ she adds.
‘Not much can be done to change what’s already happened, but we can at least try to give the new generation hope for the future.’
This Fixers project was supported by L&Q.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.