A teenager from Bevendean is blazing a trail in the charity sector with her volunteering work in local communities. Riziki Millanzi is only 17 years old but she has already been volunteering in Brighton for nine years with a number of groups within the local community and she sits in on important meetings as part of her role on the Brighton and Hove Youth Council. However the youth services in Brighton and the surrounding areas are facing serious cuts so the work Riziki and other volunteers are doing is under threat.
It is no surprise to those that know her that she has just received a letter from the Prime Minister commending her for her efforts.
Miss Milanzi said, “It was amazing! I got home from work and opened the letter but I just didn’t believe it. I thought someone was playing a prank on me. The letter from Mr. Cameron really made me want to continue to do what I love to do. The Trust for Developing Communities totally makes you feel like you’re making a difference. You feel like, if I hadn’t done that maybe that person’s life would be different or if someone hadn’t found a particular group they wouldn’t be where they are today.”
The letter from David Cameron praised Riziki for her contribution to volunteering saying that the country really needs people to band together to do this kind of community work. She has recently become a Trustee of the Trust for Developing Communities (TDC) while maintaining her work with Bevendean Activity Group and Brighton & Hove Youth Collective on top of all her schoolwork.
The Bevendean Activity Group provides activities for disadvantaged young people in the area to experience things they wouldn’t normally get the chance to do. The group organises trips, subsidised activities and more for those in difficult situations. Riziki has been working with this group since she was a girl and has recently received the recognition she deserves.
Riziki said, “I want to continue doing it because it makes such a difference and you are playing a part in potentially changing a young person’s life. It’s not one specific interaction, it’s all so rewarding. Every time someone says thank you, knowing that you’ve made such an impact on them and seeing how much it means to everyone is amazing.”
Despite her school studies Riziki is still continuing to work with Bevendean Activity Group and is excited about the new prospects of being a trustee for the TDC. She will mainly be working with the TDC alongside the whole of Brighton & Hove Youth Collective which is a new working collaboration for youth groups in the area. The Collective is made up of 8 well known youth organisations across the city who work together sharing all their best practices and resources.
Riziki said, “Becoming a trustee is the next big thing. We all cover different areas, we all have niche groups but through the Youth Collective we can help everyone and help each other.
“With The Collective I’m beginning to see how much is going in with all the different groups across the city and it’s inspiring. It’s not just the youth work in one area, Bevendean have had a choir for a while but with multiple choirs it opens up the possibility for so many more ideas in the future.”
Riziki has an exciting future ahead after all her hard work but she is worried about the proposed cuts to youth services in the city. At only 17 years old her views are incredibly mature as she is beginning to understand the wider scope of the Brighton & Hove Youth Collective, how difficult it is to secure the funding and how much harder it will be in the future.
She said, “If our groups have to stop then the knock on affect will be really upsetting because the things that were helping teenagers and young adults will be lost.
“I’m starting to see how much all the different groups with the Brighton & Hove Youth Collective do and if they weren’t there then teenagers and young adults will lose places to go and that will just increase the need for funding elsewhere. I also don’t like the thought that disadvantaged young people will be saying ‘I never had that experience’ or missing out on activities and relationships which could change their life.”
The Brighton & Hove Youth Collective are waiting for a decision from Brighton and Hove City Council about cuts to youth services which is due at the end of the February. At this time the future of the collective and the organisations within it are uncertain but its services, volunteers and the young people who need it are hoping to continue working with local communities for many years to come.
Councillor Sue Shanks , Chair of Children and Young People Committee, said, “Riziki always makes very valuable comments and asks relevant questions at the Children and Young People Committee of which she is a valued and listened to member. We always think she should be managing our services as she has such a good grasp of matters.”
In the shadow of cuts to youth services it is hoped that people like Riziki continue to be a voice for young people in the city as she represents quite clearly how the Community and Voluntary sector integrates with the Public sector. In the longer term Riziki will be a critical voice speaking up for the future of Youth Work in the city but beyond September it is a future which remains uncertain.