After meeting young people suffering injustice in Togo, Leila was inspired to help make a positive difference to lives of young people in her own community in the UK.

Leila (pictured far right) helped run language clubs in local schools to help build the confidence of young people. Photo: Leila Malaguito Leila (pictured far right) helped run language clubs in local schools to help build the confidence of young people. Photo: Leila Malguitou

From her studying Criminology and Social Policy to volunteering on a youth justice project, Leila Malguitou was inspired to keep on helping young people suffering injustice. Leila volunteered in Lomé the capital city of Togo where she and her team designed and delivered workshops for a local youth prison for children aged 12-17.

By witnessing the simple living conditions in the youth prison, Leila and her team recognised the need for raising awareness on some key issues and they ran sessions in a communal area for young boys and girls. Leila recalled: “The main issues we encountered within the youth prison were the conditions of the prison itself as well as the trials and release dates given to young people so we ran sessions on being an active citizen, CV writing and the values and principles of young people.”

During their time in Lomé, Leila’s team supported young people in the community through human rights sessions for children with disabilities, art workshops and health awareness sessions. Leila says that these activities helped to develop her organisational skills and practical problem solving while working with her counterparts.

“After seeing some of the devastating situations the young people were facing in the youth prison, I wanted to come back to support my own local community.”

On her return Leila drew parallels between the skills she developed in Togo and the work that she’s doing now in the UK. “Being in the youth prison in Togo helped me to develop my emotional resilience which was good preparation for my current role in a Children’s Secure Unit where I support young people and need to empathise greatly with them.”

By applying all the skills that she had developed through studying and volunteering, Leila was keen to support other young people who find themselves on the wrong side of the youth justice system. She continues that: “I strongly believe that no matter what a young person has done in their past, everyone has the ability to change and I saw this in action whilst working in the youth prison in Togo.”

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Leila (pictured far right) helped run language clubs in local schools to help build the confidence of young people. Photo: Leila Malaguito

Togo

With a population that is predominantly young and rural, it is apt that the green stripes of Togo’s flag symbolise hope and agriculture. Yet poverty remains widespread and poor governance continues to hamper efforts to end it.

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