The Hebe Foundation

The Hebe Foundation on how you can change a young person’s life

The Hebe Foundation on how you can change a young person’s life

By Amie Buhari, Founder & CEO of The Hebe Foundation

13 years ago, I started The Hebe Foundation, a charity working with London’s young people to help them develop skills. I started it for three reasons: there was a lack of quality youth provision creating long-term change; a rise in gang crime was robbing mainly ethnic minority families of a future without prison or death, including my cousin who spent 15 years in and out of incarceration; and young people were feeling disillusioned with society.

Unfortunately, 13 years later, these issues are still present. Young people in London are still engaging in fatal violence, except now the faces of victims are from a multitude of ethnicities. Although youth provision has improved, we’re burdened with new issues like drastic cuts to youth provision funding, the dark side of social media and the steep rise in mental health problems. 13 years later, young people still feel disillusioned.

Add 2020 into this mix and we’ve all had to drink a volatile cocktail of Covid-19, lockdown, racial killings, exam fiasco and economic downturn. As hard as this has been for adults to cope with, imagine what it’s like for teenagers? Only this month, two young men’s lives were cut short due to fatal stabbings in Lambeth, one of the many boroughs in London we work in.

So, looking to 2021, our challenge at The Hebe Foundation is clear – how do we instil hope into a generation that feels hopeless? Although the task feels mammoth, hope in fact dwells inside every young person, they just need the right environment to let it out. They need to know who they are, what they are capable of and have someone truly listen to them.

Our mission

At The Hebe Foundation, we have based our methods on these three needs. We provide numerous projects across London throughout the year, which help young people find purpose, develop crucial skills and start to map out their future. Importantly, our approach is also holistic. Just as the leg bone is connected to the knee bone, each aspect of a young person is connected. You can’t work on educational needs without addressing social and mental wellbeing. The spiritual aspect of a young person’s life has to be supported as well as their physical and cultural needs.

This year, it’s become clear that our mission is more important than ever. In November, the Chancellor warned that UK unemployment could surge to 2.6 million by 2021 in the wake of the pandemic. To support London’s marginalised communities in this employment crisis and ensure disadvantaged young people are in the best possible position to secure a job, a career and a destiny, The Hebe Foundation is running a number of skills-based projects in 2021.

This includes our flagship business & leadership project ‘The Junior Apprentice’. Based on the hit TV show, it’s an accredited 3-week Business & Leadership programme in 6 boroughs and sees teams of 13-to-19-year olds work with businesses and the community to tackle a series of business challenges. The ultimate aim: to allow those who rarely have the opportunity to turn ideas into reality to release their entrepreneurial talents.

Last year, 77% of Junior Apprentice participants said they started thinking about their future more, and 82% said it was a positive turning point in their life. This year’s winner said “the only way I have ever seen someone leave The Hebe Foundation is for the better. You are taught skills that most people don’t learn until much later in life, and experience things that will not only give you preparation for the future but understanding of it”.

Through our bespoke projects and mentoring, we have managed to see, in such a crazy year, a level of growth that we didn’t think possible, and have diversified in the face of coronavirus to deliver projects online and, when it was safe to do so, in person.

A new year

But, in 2021, we’re determined to go further. We’ll be empowering young voices by creating space for them to consult with companies on how we can make industries a better place for them to flourish, rather than fail due to a lack of understanding of who they are. Through our unique character-building programme, we’ll also be providing those who haven’t weathered the 2020 storm so well with in-depth resilience learning, coaching sessions and confidence building.

Our message to young people is simple: may you never walk in darkness, but always be the light in every situation. May your voice never be silent, but may it be bold and speak up for all that is good and all that is true. And may your breath never be taken away from you, but instead it will breathe love into all who hate.

However, there are always more young people who need us. Whether it’s funding for projects or provisions for staff, a donation will allow us to reach these people. A monthly donation of £15 will supply Hebe with office resources that keep the charity running; £20 a month provides one young person with a mentor including training and outings; and £50 a month gives a young person the opportunity to access our free projects all year round. To donate, or work with us, please get in touch here:

We know there is hope, we see if every day at Hebe. The world is bursting with it. We just need Londoners to come together and provide our young people with the resources to rid themselves of disillusionment, this year more than ever.