Hub gives teens at risk of crime ‘another chance’

By Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley
BBC Online

  • Published
Anton Brown (centre) with some of the young people he mentors
Image caption,
Anton Brown said: "I want to give these young people what I didn't have when I was younger"

A new academy aims to give disadvantaged teens at risk of committing offences “another chance” in education.

BIIIG Academy in Bristol will take on 20 students to train for an NVQ3 in construction from October.

Youth worker Anton Brown set up the centre using his own money in memory of teenager Tyrone Hayman, who was fatally stabbed in 2019.

The academy will also house a music studio, kitchen and a creative hub.

Mr Brown was a mentor in the Safer Options team - set up by the Avon and Somerset Police Crime Commissioner and Bristol City Council in response to a rise in youth crime - helping young people who were struggling with education and the criminal justice system.

He funded the academy in Portland Square by saving money from his job.

“I wanted to have my own creative hub to help the young people I work with and for disadvantaged young people that can’t be safeguarded by the education system before they became a part of the system, and to give them another chance," he said.

“Tradesmen are paid really well so could you imagine if a young person had the qualifications from us they would be earning money and not feel they had to sell drugs any more?"

Image source, Family Handout
Image caption,
Tyrone Hayman, pictured with his mother Elaine Campbell, died in hospital in December

He said the death of Tyrone, 17, at his flat in Bedminster, Bristol, in December "opened me up to seeing what is needed in the community".

Safer Options community consultant Desmond Brown has been supporting Mr Brown in his mentoring role and said Anton was a “superhero” for setting up the using academy thousands of pounds of his own money.

He said: “Young people relate to him and they feel able to desist from crime when they are around him.

“I don’t think anyone else could do what he’s done helping these young people and making the academy.”