‘Yes Outdoors’ was set up by Tony Quinn, a Sergeant in the Met Police, in the wake of the London riots in 2011. They run 9-month long mentoring schemes for some of the most challenging secondary school age children in and around Islington. Children at risk of joining gangs or serious offending are referred by schools or other Police Officers.
The scheme has two strands: running outdoor skill sessions to build self-confidence and resilience while matching mentors from the same backgrounds to develop belief in the future. The 9 months often concludes with a trip to the Brecon Beacons and Tony has some great pictures of them camping in deep snow, possible not the ‘reward’ some of them expected.
The charity also runs bike maintenance courses for a broader group of teenagers. Tony utilised his connections with the Met and persuaded them to donate some of the stolen bikes that the police are unable to return to their owners. Those involved keep the bikes at the end of the course, each participant scores points, dependent on behaviour during the course, with the leader choosing the bike they would like at the end of the day. Tony points out that for a number of those involved this is the first time they have witnessed that hard work and effort brings results.
Although ‘Yes Outdoors’ is not a Met Police charity they work closely with many of the charity volunteers being serving officers. The additional trust in the police from such a marginalised group has brought about community engagement in exactly the way needed in an area that has been sadly affected by London’s current high level of knife crime.
Liveryman Ben Aird