When his brother-in-law was stabbed to death in a local park, Mohammed Zafran took to the streets – and has helped 21,000 young people turn away from crime and drugs and back into education
BEEN THERE DONE THAT
I was born in Birmingham and lived in ‘deprived’ areas, such as Alum Rock, Bordesley Green and Small Heath. I joined South and City College as a security officer in 2003. In 2010, my blind sister passed away aged 30 and I started to do charity work for Acorns Hospice and Children’s Hospital in her memory. A year later, my brother-in-law was stabbed to death in a local park. As a result, I started engaging with youths in the early hours in local parks and streets to keep them away from crime and drugs. I asked South and City College principal Mike Hopkins if I could use the college at weekends and I set up sports initiatives, with numbers growing every week. I started engaging with leisure centres and parks across the city and also set up an academy to help Asian girls being forced to quit education at 15 to be sent abroad into arrange marriages. I formed All 4 Youth & Community.
IT’S WHAT I DO
I am South and City College community liaison officer. I engage with job and leisure centres, Birmingham City Council and youth organisations to find ways to get youths back into education.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
More leisure centres so we could get more young people occupied and off the streets. People in power must keep delivering the message that education is the key to success and keeping away from trouble. One day, I would love to have my own team I lead at the college and reach out to more youths all over the city.
Working with more than 21,000 youths who were involved in crime and drugs and collaborating with over 50 youth organisations and signing up over 7,000 young women who have progressed in further education and employment. I was very proud to be named as a Pride of Birmingham winner and to be awarded the BEM by the Queen. I have won 25 national awards and was named in the Top 10 Global Humanitarian List alongside Barrack Obama and Angelina Jolie.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
I was asked by Carol Vorderman at the Pride of Britain awards how dangerous it was for me to roam around the streets looking for gangs and I replied that I would never advise others to do it! My situation made me do what I did, otherwise I could never have imagined doing this kind of work.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
Being a proud Brummie, I love the diversity in Birmingham and if you saw our academy you’d see how youths from all faiths participate in activities and celebrate each other’s festivals together.
I like keeping busy and engaging with more people so we can help them. I write for two national newspapers and appear on TV, mainly to discuss community engagement and youth initiatives. I do like the odd game of snooker, though…