Youth Learning Network (YLN) is a not-for-profit organisation centred on education and cultural heritage to help young people thrive in a challenging world.
Who are we
YLN is an award-winning, not-for-profit organisation that aims to encourage and enrich the local community through extracurricular activities.
Based in the heart of East Dulwich, YLN serves families with children in key stages 1–4 living across the London boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Lewisham, Croydon and further afield. Our aim is to support and empower parents and families in South London to make a difference in their children’s lives. We complement, rather than compete with, the efforts of schools by providing a programme of supplementary education (aligned to the national curriculum), to reinforce key skills such as reading, writing and maths.
Our educational programme includes a range of activities that enrich learning, develop academic minds and support maturity, confidence and healthy self-esteem. Contact us to learn more about our upcoming activities in: African history, online safety and cyber bullying, chess, European languages, drama, performance, music, storytelling, career coaching and motivation, further education applications, as well as trips around the UK and internationally to visit sites of historical significance.
Connect with us:
We create strategies to empower children and young people using specific educational programmes and projects to develop their talents and skills.
We provide a positive learning environment that motivates and instills confidence, knowledge and understanding of self, enabling young people to develop healthy minds and become positive contributors to society.
Our particular focus has been to provide enhanced support to children and young people from families of African and Caribbean descent, or those identified as having difficulties in mainstream education. This might be due to general lack of motivation and concentration, or circumstances that have led to children being on the verge of exclusion, or are already excluded.
Parents are crucial in education because they are the voices of change, however, we understand that work commitments and financial pressures can make prioritising the educational needs of children difficult. We support and encourage parents to engage in their children’s education and provide valuable strategies to improve fractured relationships with mainstream education providers.
YLN provides support to parents and local communities, raising educational awareness and standards that allow them to play active roles in schools and school work. We act as a focal point for the spread of new ideas in the field of parental involvement and a voice on how schools are organised and run.
Organisations like YLN are critical in aiding children’s recovery from COVID–19 restrictions, lockdowns and the effect of general disruptions to education since March 2020. We have achieved great success and were recently honoured with the accolade of Best Cultural Education Providers 2020, receiving a certificate of appreciation. We were also awarded the COVID–19 Civic Award by Southwark Council.
YLN was established in February 2006 under the umbrella of the Home Office funded Grassroots Rising Community Regeneration Network Team at Southwark Action for Voluntary Organizations (SAVO, now Community Action Southwark, CAS).
We are founded on the principles of organising and preventing rather than seeking solutions later, as illustrated in the words of Martin Luther King Jnr.
YLN adopted the Sankofa (pronounced SAHN-koh-fah), into its logo. This word, represented by an African bird with its head tuned back, translates to “retrieve” or “go back” in Ghanaian languages. This symbolises one taking from the past what is good and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress. We believe that in reaching back and understanding our past, we can gather the best of what our past has to teach us, to move forward and achieve our full potential. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone or been stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved and perpetuated.
“OUR LIVES BEGIN TO END THE DAY WE BECOME SILENT ABOUT THINGS THAT MATTER.”
We started out as The Youth Dialogue Project, funded by UnLtd’s Refugee Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs. The Youth Dialogue Project focused on youth solutions to issues commonly faced by young people with the aim of creating a safer, stronger and more inclusive community, as outlined in the Home Office Charter for Communities.
In January 2008, the organisation became a Social Enterprise (Company Limited by Guarantee, registration no. 6484203) with a Company Secretary and Directors, and in May 2011, acquired Charitable Status (registration no. 1141917) dedicated to engaging and improving the lives of African and Caribbean children and young people.
We regard education as an investment to the nation, rather than a cost. It is the passport to enlightenment, and that enlightenment must be shared by parents, teachers and the decision makers.
We want to eradicate a system that perpetuates the failure of the African child by lifting the historical spirits of children of African and Caribbean descent through understanding of their history and cultural heritage.
We also empower parents and families with knowledge of how the educational system functions, to be able to highlight areas where educators might be failing their children. Given the appropriate guidance, support, direction and motivation, we believe children and young people will have a better understanding of who they are in society, and participate in the creation of an effective socio-economic niche.
YLN’s vision responds to the African Union’s proposal for peoples of the African Diaspora to enhance their relationships with the people of Continental Africa. YLN has designed a programme of local and international initiatives that provide young people with the opportunity to experience African culture and learn about their roots.
Children of the African Diaspora have been positively impacted by our initiatives, which range from local excursions, cultural deep-dives, and trips to Africa. The benefits of these experiences remain for a lifetime; broadening horizons, improving knowledge of self, building confidence, learning new skills and gaining valuable knowledge of Africa that is missing from the current national curriculum.
Exploring Ghana and Benin
YLN has been privileged to receive support from sponsors, such as British Airways, to provide international travel for our children, young people and their families. This has provided the opportunity to explore Ghana, learn about the great Ghana Empire of Timbuktu, understand the history of slavery and those that fought for freedom by visiting national museums and places of historical interest. In addition, there are opportunities to become fully immersed in the culture by spending quality time with families in local villages and taking excursions to experience Africa’s wildlife in their natural habitat.
The educational benefits of such trips are wide-reaching. We have observed young British Africans, on experiencing the lives of young continental Africans, developing a better understanding of their own lives through a comparative assessment. This might be through noticing differences in quality of life, culture, economic advantages or disadvantages as a result of where they have been born or raised. This results in a more focused, career-driven young person with a desire to take full advantage of the education at their fingertips and to approach learning and higher education decisions with maturity and dedication.
Help us reach our target for the next excursion to Ghana in 2022.
Meet our team
Executive Director and founding member of YLN
Toheeb Akanni Jimoh
Director and past student of YLN
You can contact us at: c/o Unit 2, 17 – 19 Blackwater Street, East Dulwich, London SE22 8SD.
Tel 078 2162 3009.