New charity aims to help Herts’ disadvantaged young people

The Herts Young Leaders team.

The Herts Young Leaders team. - Credit: Archant

A new youth charity has been launched to help the county’s disadvantaged young people achieve their potential, realise their dreams and become young leaders of tomorrow in an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment.

Herts Young Leaders is the brainchild of London Colney resident Leanne Monaghan, who was inspired to set it up after volunteering at a similar organisation in London.

Leanne, who is of Afro-Caribbean heritage, put a call-out on the St Albans for Black Lives Matter Facebook group for volunteers to help bring her vision to life and was contacted by people with backgrounds in education, charity, social work, music and film-making.

She has been joined by Lavinia Abbott, Shelley Hayles, Nommy Mlalazi, Miranda Nagalingam and Cynthia Rowe.

Leanne, 29, said: “I have only recently really begun to understand the limitations, restrictions and social obstacles that were placed on me from a very early age simply because of my disadvantaged background.

“I also now realise the power of education and knowledge and what having a mentor believe in you, along with a support system can really do for your potential. When I volunteered in London it showed me the vital impact charities that invest in disadvantaged young people can really have and it is now my dream to have a similar impact in my own county with Herts Young Leaders.”

The initial aim of HYL - which is in the process of applying for charitable status - was to focus on helping disadvantaged children from BAME backgrounds, but after further research into the demographic make-up of Hertfordshire, it was clear that this needed to be open to all young people, regardless of their background.

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The founders recognised that the issues in Hertfordshire and districts like St Albans in particular are as much to do with socio economic divides in addition to that of race.

Herts Young Leaders (HYL) will launch in January 2021 with a primary objective of delivering an eight-week programme aimed at supporting children who have fallen behind as a result of the pandemic and the knock-on effect that has had on children who have not had adequate home-schooling due to circumstances beyond their control.

Those in Years 5 and 6 will be targeted to begin with - as early intervention has been proven to be key in any child’s development - and the first programmes will run in St Albans. However, the hope is for the charity to grow and be rolled out across the county to eventually cover eight to 16 year olds.

Educational sessions will be run after school on a Tuesday and Thursday, designed to offer a different way of learning than what is taught at school in order to keep the children engaged and interested. An additional Saturday session will focus on developing life skills and creativity away from the classroom. St Peter’s School on Cottonmill Lane in St Albans has offered to provide a venue free of charge.

HYL chair of trustees and headteacher of How Wood Primary School, Cynthia Rowe said: “Our fundamental aim is to engage young people at risk of under achievement using a range of innovative and engaging teaching strategies and activities. We will work to support the wellbeing of our young people by developing emotional literacy skills, philanthropy and establishing a sense of belonging so as to empower them to achieve to the very best of their abilities.”

To find out more about HYL, visit their stall at the Black History Month market this Friday in St Albans or email

The charity would particularly like to hear from tutors who may be interested in delivering the educational and life skills sessions.

You can follow their journey @HYL on Instagram and Twitter and on Facebook at Herts Young Leaders.