Archbishop Tutu chatted to young people about ‘their struggles
Archbishop Tutu and Mary Robinson in the bus that visits the estate every week
Published: 6 July, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
ONE of the world’s most famous freedom fighters, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, made a secret visit to Finsbury Park on Wednesday to meet youth workers on the Andover estate.
The visit, accompanied by Mary Robinson, first female President of Ireland, was so low key that even Islington’s most important dignitaries, Town Hall leader Catherine West and MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry, were not invited.
The Archbishop asked for no publicity on the day so that he could concentrate on talking to young people from the estate “about their struggles, challenges and hopes for the future”.
The Archbishop and Ms Robinson are members of The Elders, a group of independent leaders currently in London working together for peace, justice and human rights worldwide.
They met young people, volunteers and staff from the Christian-based charity, XLP, who use a double-decker bus to take youth projects around schools and estates in London.
They aim to provide positive support for young people.
There’s help and space for children who want to do homework, advice on crime and gang culture and support for people looking for work.
Their bus is parked on the Andover estate once a week for two or three hours.
Patrick Regan, 38, founder and chief executive of the charity, said it was a great honour to meet the man who had played such an important part in the removal of the old apartheid regime in South Africa.
During his visit, the Archbishop said that no one person or organisation could effectively address the complex challenges faced by vulnerable young people living in the inner city.
“Only by coming together and standing with each other can we expect change,” he said.
“Only then can we give the next generation a fighting chance.”
The Archbishop was interested in what had happened in the capital since the riots, Mr Regan said.
He wanted to know some of the key challenges facing the Andover estate.
Mr Regan added: “But he was very upbeat when he talked to the youth.
"He told them to remember that where you come from does not determine where you end up.”
The visit was organised in celebration of Mandela Day on July 18.
It calls on people to celebrate the former President of South Africa’s life and legacy by serving their communities and taking action to build a better world.
Ms Robinson and the Archbishop commended the volunteers and XLP staff and encouraged young people to aspire to make a difference.
The Archbishop told Mr Regan as they were leaving: “I am incredibly thrilled by all the things you do here at XLP and I believe that XLP makes God smile.”
To find out more about XLP, visit www.xlp.org.uk