Elays Network is a non-profit, youth driven community organisation, based in Wandsworth London, whose goal is to provide a space for growth, enrichment and spiritual development through its variety of programmes.
In addition to this they learn leadership skills and the tools that enables them to became active citizens and future Elays leaders. Ensuring that our good work is passed on to future generations.
Meet the team
Founder & Director
Elays Board Members
(Women’s Only sessions)
Our Goals & Values
To educate young people, encouraging them to reach their full potential.
To bring local authorities, organisations and the wider community together.
To nurture and create the leaders of tomorrow by equipping them with the right skills and knowledge.
To empower young people by actively engaging them in projects geared towards social change.
To engage at risk youngsters through our programmes and schemes.
One of our many priorities is to ensure that disadvantaged kids from ethnic minorities do well and stay in school. Sadly this isn’t always the case at the moment, as exclusion rates among these youngsters are unnecessarily high. This really concerns us, as not only is this bad for them, but it also has a knock-on effect on their families and those who love and work in the borough
Our belief is that everyone, regardless of where they’re from, deserves a decent start in life, which is why we decided to set up the Elays Mentoring Project (EMP) in 2012. The project works in conjunction with schools, the Metropolitan Police and Youth Offending Team along with Social Services who refer young people to us whom they think would benefit most from the services we offer. We’re delighted that EMP has proved an invaluable resource to those who need it the most, and are grateful for all the support that it has received over the years.
Our view is that when you’re young it’s important to have someone to look up to – someone who can guide you, and who is there to support and encourage you. Unfortunately many of the kids whom we help don’t have that special person in their lives which is why we created our mentoring programme. It’s important to us that our mentors are from similar backgrounds, and have gone through the same difficulties as the kids we work with have, as their first-hand experience of exactly what they’re going through is really important as it fosters a unique bond between the mentors and the youngsters.
We’ve seen time and time again how this helps our young people to overcome the obstacles that may prevent them from getting on in the world. We’re honoured to work in partnership with a whole host of organisations in order to nurture all aspects of these kids’ development, highlighting that it is possible for kids, parents and teachers to work well together and communicate in a beneficial way.
Elays Mentoring Project aims:
- To help young students stay in school and prevent exclusion.
- To strengthen their skills and increase their capabilities.
- To encourage them to better respect their peers, parents and authority figures.
- To instill stronger morals, ethics and a better code of conduct.
- To encourage parental involvement in their education.
- To strengthen their identity and have secure roots alongside a sense of belonging.
- To help them learn time management and organisational skills.
- To get them to engage in beneficial leisure activities.
We’re fully aware that it can be hard for young people to get the chance in life they so richly deserve, especially given today’s climate, but we honestly believe that if they’re given the right help, these kids can soar – the sky’s the limit for them, which is one of the reasons why we’ve developed an ICT Apprenticeship programme in partnership with SomBrit Youth.
This apprenticeship offers our kids an invaluable opportunity to gain hands on experience of being part of a working environment. There’s another plus side to this in that all those who take part gain up to 400 UCAS points, so they earn while they learn. To find out more contact us here.
We’re particularly proud that we’re able to offer a space for Somali women, as they are often marginalised and find it difficult to make friends, especially as English isn’t their first language. It’s important that they feel empowered which is why we equip them with the necessary skills to become more confident and take an active part in the community.
Sessions for women take place every Saturday and some of the topics we cover include Arabic lessons, Muhadaras (Islamic lectures) and advice on how the local authority, education system and health services work.
Elays Supplementary School
One of our aims is to ensure that all children are able to read and understand the Holy Qur’an in a safe, nurturing environment and have its meaning properly explained to them. We’re delighted that over the last ten years countless of kids have benefitted from our Madrasas where they have also learnt stories of the prophets, Hadiths (saying of the prophet Muhammed – pbuh), Duas (invocations) and Islamic manners. We pride ourselves on the fact that the learning experience is fun and enjoyable for the kids, as we teach all the above subjects using activities, games and puzzles.
Classes are as follows:
Elderly Primary School
The R&E Centre
Mondays & Tuesdays: 4.30-7.00pm
It’s a well known fact that if kids are bored they’re more likely to start causing mischief. If they’ve got little or nothing productive to do in their spare time, they can often be lead astray which is why our football team, Elays FC, has been a hugely positive influence in their lives as it gives them something worthwhile to keep them busy. We like to think that it not only focuses their minds and energies, but also encourages them to become better team players.
Elays FC kicked off in 2014 as there was such a high demand from boys in the local area to have a proper, organised kick-a-bout. It’s been so popular that we now have two teams; one for the under 15s and one for the under 17s – and they’re good. We’ve even won two trophies and tournaments. They play every Saturday and we welcome boys from all backgrounds to come along and take part.
It’s really important that we keep the kids engaged which is why the youth club meets on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week at the Elays centre.
We provide a whole host of activities such as cooking, basketball, football, arts and crafts, education workshops and the Girl Guides also meet at our venue. Everyone aged 11-18 is welcome to come along and join in.
Given the nature of what we do, most of the young people whom we help come from disadvantaged backgrounds with parents who were either refugees or asylum seekers. Unfortunately they’ve had a far from easy start in life and often struggle at school which is why we decided to launch the Elays Booster Club in 2014.
Given that English is often their second language we were determined to do everything in our power to prevent them from falling behind the rest of their class in school which is why EBC has been so beneficial as it offers them extra tuition in English, Maths and Science once a week.
We are delighted that EBC has proved to be hugely popular, as over forty children now attend on a regular basis, which we’re sure you’ll agree is a massive step in the right direction. We’re particularly thrilled with the results but we’re not the only ones.
Because EBC follows the national curriculum parents are overjoyed with the results too as their children are performing better at school. We ensure no one is left out as all children are catered for from key stage 1 right up to sixth form.
It’s important that even though we’re many thousands of miles away from our home country of Somalia that we never forget our culture or the essence of what it is to be Somali. Elmimag.com is an online platform that we have created to acknowledge, recognise and inspire Somali youth as it’s vital that we support one another, no matter where, or who we are. This online platform allows Somalis from all corners of the globe to see what their compatriots are up to, share their success stories and be inspired to achieve great things.
The magazine is written by Somalis of all ages and backgrounds and everyone is able to contribute to it. Currently there’s a segment entitled ‘A Letter to Their Younger Self’, and you can view the letters here. Elmimag.com is an important part of our work in that it brings Somalis together and helps foster a sense of belonging.
Art & Media
Every Saturday the Elays centre is buzzing with young people from all walks of life who come along and share their ideas during our film workshops. Run by professionals whose expertise lies in film and multimedia they help nurture and develop the youngsters’ ideas.
The three films below all came about because of these workshops, and we’re delighted that this project resonates so strongly with the kids who come to our centre.
Second Chances (2010)
Having been funded by Media-Box to make a short film we enlisted over 40 young people who are part of Elays’ network to take part. Second Chances was their idea, and the end result is a hard-hitting film about gang and anti-social issues told from their perspective. The film continues to have an impact on young people from a whole host of diverse communities and has been screened at workshops in youth centres throughout the country.Watch Video
Ayan Film (2009)
We were delighted when our Ayan Film won both the Short Film Award at the Happy Soul Festival and a Special Citation for Excellence in Urban Cinema at the Insight Film Festival in Manchester in 2009, the year of its release. Ayan Film was funded by South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust.Watch Video
Pentagon Film (2011)
This film was made during the London riots of summer 2011 and directed by a group of youngsters from Elays. Over 60 young people – actors, volunteers, directors and supporters took part with funding provided by Wandsworth Police. We were thrilled that so many people from across London came to the premiere at the Prince Charles Cinema.Watch Video
We hope you agree that the work we’re doing in trying to enrich disadvantaged young lives is something that you want to support. In order to maintain and run our centre in Wandsworth, increase the number of children we help, and continue all the projects we run we need sponsorship. So if you’d be proud to associate your name or your company’s name with Elays, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
We’d love you to come down, meet the team, and see first hand the invaluable work that we’re doing and also meet the young people whose lives have been transformed by Elays. You can either send us an email, or give us a call and we’ll arrange a meeting.