Birmingham & Black Country

Jamelia's pledge to inner city youths

Jamelia
Image caption The MOBO award winning singer achieved chart success in 2002

Birmingham-born pop singer Jamelia says she wants to lead by example and help make disadvantaged youngsters and inner city pupils more aware of the opportunities available to them.

As the fall-out from the recent rioting across England continues, questions are being asked about why so many young people were involved.

The second city was the scene of intense rioting and disorder by groups of young people on 8 and 9 August.

Politicians and experts have since spoken of youths feeling "disaffected and alienated" as the government vows to look at the deeper social issues within society.

The singer, who grew up in a single parent household around Handsworth and Hockley, told BBC WM she did not realise what opportunities were available to her when she was young.

She said she wanted to see youngsters aspire to greater career opportunities and "dream big", like her mother encouraged her to.

She is happy to be the "poster girl" for helping children from similar backgrounds realise there are positive opportunities available.

She said: "Every child has the potential to be something great.

"They don't know they have these opportunities - I didn't know.

"At 14, I didn't know I could end up with a swimming pool in my back garden.

"I thought I would end up working in the local corner shop and that was fine by me and that was the limit of my dreams until, I always say, someone handed me a golden ticket - until someone said: 'you can do this'."

Jamelia achieved major success from around 2002 after a string of hits including Thank You and Superstar hit the UK charts.

Brought up by her mother, she said she did not know any different until she went to friends' homes aged about 12 and saw both a father and mother present and realised "there is another way".

Image caption The disorder started in London and spread to other cities

At school - City Technology College in Kingshurst - she said she was in a minority because of her colour, after being in a majority where she lived.

But she said it was a positive experience, helping her widen her views and dispense with any misconceptions.

"It was a huge learning experience for me - I'm glad.

"It was very easy to have misconceptions about other races and now my children don't see colour."

Since the rioting, she said she has been galvanized into thinking about how to help young people aim higher and believe they can achieve their goals.

"It's about showing kids they have potential to go to those places and do these things if only they knuckle down and do the work.

'Look at me now'

"Since the riots, I've thought I'd love to go into schools and start talking to kids, especially disadvantaged youths and inner city children while they're in school.

"Just to tell them and show them my old house, my old school and tell them I used to catch the bus every day and that I wasn't able to get the latest trainers but, look at me now.

"I've got to this stage by 15 years of hard work.

"I want to be the poster girl, if that's what it takes.

"I really want to show people we're not doomed."

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