Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham has received £2.2 million from the government “to help boost projects for young people.”
The money is part of the Youth Investment Fund by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and charity Social Investment Business.
The masjid is now promising to deliver a state-of-the-art youth centre for 12-17 year olds with modern facilities including open spaces, a fully equipped teaching kitchen and a creative arts area with a digital tunnel installation.
Activities will include programmes on leadership, critical thinking, arts and culture, staying safe online and how to empower marginalised communities.
Work is planned to start on site as early as September 2023 and the service should open to young people by April 2024.
In a press release, Green Lane Masjid said: “GLMCC has been awarded a transformational Youth Investment Fund grant to renovate and extend its youth provision offer to young people across Birmingham.
“It is exciting news for young people within the community, who will benefit from the generous funding. GLMCC currently provides over 10 services for youth including sports activities, youth clubs, education and outdoor excursions. The increased services will open the door to greater youth capacity being able to access activities, mentoring and skills development.
“The Youth Investment Fund of over £2.2million, allows GLMCC to support another 772 youth when the project is complete. GLMCC hopes to create a pioneering youth centre, GLMCC Youth Futures, with additional services and activities aligned to the needs of our youth.
“GLMCC Youth Futures will include a state-of-the-art youth centre, with modern facilities including open versatile spaces, a fully equipped teaching kitchen, and a creative arts area with a captivating digital tunnel installation. The activities will include leadership programs, critical thinking programs, arts and culture elements, staying safe online, and empowerment of minoritised communities.
“A Youth Advisory Board has been formed, which will form the cornerstone of the program, and they have been actively involved in the development of the physical site and the program of work. This service will allow young people to access a space that is much needed; they will be able to access programs that would have otherwise been out of reach, enriching their lives.
“GLMCC is one of 44 youth projects in England to benefit from a Youth Investment Fund grant, announced by the funder, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the charity Social Investment Business, who is delivering the grant programme in partnership with Key Fund, National Youth Agency and Resonance.
“The Youth Investment Fund is part of the Government’s National Youth Guarantee to transform and level up opportunities for young people in England. The Youth Investment Fund, of over £300 million, aims to build, renovate, or extend youth service facilities, providing a minimum of 45,000 additional positive activities for young people between 11 and 18 – in the parts of the country where new spaces and new opportunities are most needed…
“The Youth Investment Grant will enable youth services like GLMCC to transform health, well-being, skills, and opportunities for young people. It is a ground-breaking opportunity to prioritise the needs of young people and deliver the life-changing services they need, creating a more equal society for future generations. Work is planned to start on site as early as September 2023 and the service should open its doors to young people by April 2024.”
However, 5Pillars understands that there is concern in the community that, given the government’s commitment to “counter-extremism,” the youth centre will effectively turn into a “Prevent-style” de-radicalisation centre.
Dr Layla Aitelhadj, of Prevent Watch, told 5Pillars: “For 20 years, Muslim places of worship have been grounds for pre-crime policing and surveillance under the guise of security, online safety, ’empowering communities, and youth leadership training.’
“While it is hoped funding is given in good faith, masaajid must remain cautious they do not become vehicles for counter-extremism and terrorism objectives through implied conditions or bullying tactics.”
5Pillars put these concerns to Green Lane Masjid but they did not reply to us.
The government funding was approved a few months after Mercy Mission UK released the British Muslim Civil Society report, which argued that Muslim charities should benefit from government partnerships.
Jehangir Malik, director of Mercy Mission UK, was involved in the Green Lane Masjid bid.