Mohammed Atiq Nazir (born 4/9/91) was joint Cambridgeshire
Young Person of the Year in 2012 for turning his life around
after his brother was involved in a murder. This was his story at the time…
Ten days after ‘9-11' a white teenage boy was murdered in Peterborough by a gang of young Asians.
Three men, including one of Atiq's older brothers, were jailed for life.
Atiq's family received hate mail and although he was only 10 at the time Atiq questioned why he
should behave. It was a few years later when he was challenged about his behaviour – which
included joining a gang, taking drugs and fighting – that Atiq decided to change.
Since then Atiq has had a leading role in healing a rift between local youngsters and police in a
deprived area of Peterborough. The central ward has the city's highest number of NEETS - young
people not in employment, education or training. It has a high proportion of black and ethnic
minority people and now immigrant workers from Eastern Europe. There are tensions that in turn
lead to crime and anti-social behaviour.
Three years ago Atiq and an older friend took the initiative and approached a local charity. They
wanted to set up a youth club to give local youngsters a space of their own, and keep them gainfully
occupied. They found space at a local community centre for three nights a week.
Atiq was involved in setting up and running the club. This was also an opportunity to engage with
some youngsters who were normally ‘difficult to reach‘. As well as playing games, sport and doing
other recreation, the youth club gave young people the chance to discuss issues.
The subject of tension with the local police came up and Atiq suggested inviting them to the club.
‘The local youths even cooked a meal for the area sergeant and his team. This would not have
happened previously – there would have been hostility. The meal went very well and abusive
language that had previously been used at the police went down to zero. The police and young
people now call each other by first names."
When the English Defence League held a rally in Peterborough, Atiq helped to lay on diversionary
activities so none of his club's young people got involved in a counter demonstration.
Atiq now works a fourth night at a second club. He has achieved a youth work qualification and
hopes to become a full-time youth worker. He recalls why he and his friend wanted to help. "We felt
that things were getting desperate around where we live because of anti-social behaviour. We could
see things getting worse with the potential for bigger problems."
It is a major change from his teens. "Without this opportunity it could have been a
different story. I realised that I did not want to end up in court or in prison.
Volunteering and helping with the youth club brought a whole new aspect to my life.
"I feel proud of serving the community and turning my life around. I know I have
more to give. This is just the start!"