Campaign is launched to save Islington youth worker’s job

Campaigners are demanding the reinstatement of a highly respected youth worker – after he was forced out of the club he helped found 35 years ago.

Parents, members and volunteers are outraged at the decision by St Mary’s Youth Club to terminate the contract of senior youth worker Nick Adams, 59.

He has dedicated more than half his life to the centre in Upper Street, Islington, which counts X Factor winners Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke as former members.

Users say they were not consulted by the board of trustees and have started a petition, which calls for a n impartial investigation.

Parent Neil Welch, 45, whose 12-year-old son goes three times a week during term time, said: “I could not believe it when I found out. Our goal is for Nick to be reinstated.”

Mother and charity worker Lorena Vesco, 45, of nearby Gaskin Street, said: “He’s brilliant. You need more people like that, not to get rid of them.”

Rapper Lil Simz, 18, real name Simbi Ajikawo, said: “I have been coming here since I was seven and I’m 18 now. If anyone understands children and youth work, it’s Nick Adams. I wouldn’t come here without him. He’s the heart of St Mary’s.”

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In a passionate show of support, dozens of people whose lives he has touched – both young and old – gathered on Monday for a showdown with the trustees.

The Gazette was refused entry by Revd Simon Harvey, vicar of St Mary’s.

Former member Medina Ajikawo, 33, who called the meeting, said: “It didn’t change anything. We wanted to get them to reverse the decision, but we’re still in the same position.”

She added: “Now we need to take matters into our own hands and ask for an independent inquiry into what has actually happened and why they have arrived at this decision.”

Helen Mylam, chairman of the trustees, said: “In recent years the way we secure funding has changed considerably and become increasingly competitive, forcing us to look to professionalise our operation in order to ensure that we continue into the long term.”

The job of a “youth development manger” has already been advertised, with a salary of up to �36,000.

St Mary’s Youth Club was founded in 1977 and hosts after-school clubs and holiday play schemes, both of which Mr Adams has managed.