Q&A: My Newham - History lover Cherice Atayi

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 January 2019


History enthusiast Cherice Atayi is a Year 10 pupil at All Saints Catholic School in Dagenham. The 14-year-old speaks about diversity and acts of kindness.

What’s your connection with the borough?

I’m part of a gospel choir and we’ve sung at the Hope Family Catholic Church in Dagenham. I’ve also applied to be part of the BAD Youth Forum. I’ve lived in Barking all my life and so have my parents.

What’s the best thing about living or working in Barking and Dagenham?

The community and the diversity. Everyone knows everyone here. There’s no better feeling, walking down the road and you see someone you know and you can catch up. There’s also a great sense of diversity, with so many different races and religions, and everyone’s really accepting.

What one thing would you change?

I would try to get youth out of gangs. There’s quite a lot of crime in this area. I don’t think there’s enough support or help for the community to get them off the streets. We hear about all this on the news but nothing gets done after people talk about it. There’s a lack of places for young people to go. For instance, there’s a cadets group here, but you barely see any cadets and there aren’t enough groups like that. There’s not enough places for them to turn to and once you’re in the gang stuff it’s difficult to get out of it, it can get messy.

Use three words to describe the area?

Diversity in its finest.

Who is the most inspiring person you’ve ever met?

I’ve not met them, but the most inspiring person in my life is Yara Shahidi, an actress from Black-ish. It’s her reluctance to let things that shouldn’t be happening pass her by that makes her inspiring. She’s a very rounded person. I look up to that.

If you were prime minister, what law would you introduce?

I would get people to spread love. It’s not much, but if everyone did one act of kindness it could make a real difference.

If you were editor of this newspaper, what issues would you focus on?

I’m big for youth. I would focus more on young people and supporting them, because they’re the ones that are going to be ruling the population soon. Instead of putting them down with pressure, we should be giving them more guidance.

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