Coined at Coin Street

Maya Liam Jesse

In August, Jesse, Liam, and Maya knew that the A’ level results they received had firmly secured their places at Cambridge, Newcastle and Kent Universities.

Before embarking on their next big adventure, they took a break from their work with the Coin Street youth summer camp to speak openly about growing up in SE1, their challenges, aspirations, and goals.

These three young people are facing bright futures with limitless possibilities. Each acknowledge they had a strong start from their parents and have developed life skills of creativity, collaboration, and commitment in their time at Coin Street.  

They have been involved with Coin Street throughout their lives. Jesse was in the nursery and later all three took part in various summer camps.

As teenagers they have taken on roles as young leaders within the Coin Street community, preparing them for their futures as they mentor other young people coming through the Coin Street experience.

Already winners they are successful recipients of Coin Street Stars and renowned Jack Petchey Achievement Awards.

All three were looking forward to university with eager anticipation and excitement.

Defying stereotypes and displaying maturity beyond their years, these three inspirational youngsters are confident in their abilities and optimistic about their futures.

They have the qualities that all good leaders require, with open minds open, listening and hearing the opinions of others as well as working in collaboration.

None of them want leadership to be something done as a ‘bossy individual’, like an army general on a horse waving on the foot soldiers to follow.

All three display the values held by Coin Street that encourage community action, commitment and change through collaboration.

Our chat helped explore their personalities and look at their past, present and future.

Their Goals Growing up

‘‘I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to create stuff that’s tangible.’’ Jesse (going to Cambridge University although he was also offered a place at Imperial College, London)

“I have always been creative whether it was writing stories from a very young age, acting singing drawing”. Maya (going to Kent University)

“Growing up I never had examples of what I wanted to do so went off and learned what I was good at”. Liam (going to Newcastle University)

How do you face challenges?

“I’ve got ADHD so there’s a lot of exams where I love the topic but in terms of being in exam conditions, I wouldn’t like that […] that’s why I chose engineering” Jesse

‘’I’m neurodiverse. I find that kind of rigid exam setting difficult and focusing on one task for a long time and interpreting things. I like English as I can be creative and come up with ideas and think ‘outside the box’. This ability provides me with the perspective to look at things in a unique way instead of seeing it as a disadvantage”. Maya

Give me examples of situations where you worked in a diverse group with different opinions

“I’ve learned to respect everyone’s opinions; but challenge them when it comes to racism and things that are morally wrong. I am concerned that I may have to deal with racism in the future. People that are racist have been conditioned to think that way and it’s a result of ignorance, so opinions can be changed. I try to understand their point of view instead of trying to change them through brute force!”. Jesse

“Sometimes young people do have different opinions and you have to meet in the middle. If someone is being racist or being mean you have the right to stand up to that. Society having progressed further from this kind of behaviour. Better to talk to people with a range of opinions and over time you learn that people’s stories affect their opinions”. Maya

“I like healthy debate on different issues and alternative views. I believe this allows me to learn more about the world and people”. Liam

What was A ‘Level Results Day like for you?

For all three of them, it’s been a tougher year than most with teaching completely transformed. This left a lot of uncertainty for all three of them before results day.

“In the morning I was terrified”. Jesse

“Unlike when I did GCSEs I didn’t sit in a room for an exam. I had done a large part online, so I wasn’t sure how it was all going to work”. Maya

“The summer was quite tough with a lot of sleepless nights”. Liam

On Coin Street

“Coin Street has had a big positive impact on my childhood and mental health being in the nursery from a young age. It represents a space I was able to go to during summer holidays and a group of people I got to know well”. Jesse

“My family involved me from a young age and given opportunities to help out at Coin Street which have been beneficial. Now I am a session leader. So, I not only use the service but am able to give something back. A cycle that bodes well for the future of the organisation and the children that benefit from it”. Maya

“Coin Street was always a safe space to grow and be facilitating positive experiences. I could create my own events and projects that mean so much more to me. Building events with the people of Coin Street for the people of Coin Street, the inspirational neighbourhood in SE1. It’s nice for me to see other people grow up in the organisation”. Liam

Leader or inventor?

“I want to independent and work for himself and I want to lead and create my own stuff” Jesse

“I would describe myself as a leader. What conflicts with that is my creative side. My life motto would be I wanna make a difference or make a change or do something of importance – being a creator is more likely to achieve that life goal.’’ Liam

“Whatever I create, I want people to think about it. Through self-expression I want to provoke thought and conversation”. Maya

It’s clear all three believe that inspiring others is what allows leadership and creation.

The next three years will be interesting for these amazing young people, and we will follow their progress as they work through their semesters at Cambridge, Newcastle and Kent.

It’s hoped that after they graduate, they may well return to work in SE1. Perhaps on building projects or creative community initiatives in this inspirational neighbourhood at Coin Street. 

For more on Young Leaders contact Laura