South London businessman helping kids from similar backgrounds off the streets

By Jacob Paul

A youth charity lifting teenagers out of gang violence is being supported by a businessman who came from the same background.

XLP is now being backed by cloud computer services firm Olive with its work of mentoring, sport and the arts activities to help the young and disadvantaged from places like Lambeth and Southwark take the right path.

Almost 4,500 young people in Greenwich, Lewisham and elsewhere are supported by the charity each year.

They partnered up with Olive after the company’s Lambeth-born chief executive, Martin Flick, offered to help out.

Martin said: “If you’re from a similar background to mine, an inner-city kid caught in the poverty trap, the pandemic means sports clubs, social clubs and other activities aren’t around, so lots of kids are losing their support structures.

“They could easily fall into crime or be overlooked by society, and I thought I should try and help people in that predicament.

“There are lots of examples, not just me, where people have come from that background to do well and make a difference to society in a positive way.”

Martin’s dad left home when he was three years old, and he was raised by his mother, moving between housing estates in Lambeth, Stockwell and Clapham.

He left school at 15 without any qualifications but has gone on to have a successful career, going from working in a sweet shop, to managing a shoe shop to running his own businesses.

He said: “I never felt hard done by. Life’s what you make if it so I didn’t feel underprivileged, it was just the hand that I’d been dealt with but my whole life I wanted to do better.

“If you surround yourself with the right people you can achieve great things. Some of my closest friends went to prison and I’m fortunate that I never did.”

Martin went to secondary school during the Brixton riots of 1981 amidst social unrest – which he remembers as a frightening experience. But he still looks back on his youth in South London fondly.

Martin said: “It was home. I’ve got a very strong affinity to South London. Being close to central London was a big thing for me. As a kid I could jump on the number 8 bus and have a day out in the west end with my mates for no money at all.

“The diversity of the population meant there were lots of different cultures and different types of people. It made me very streetwise and accepting of multiracial environments.”

Olive’s partnership with XLP will include a donation match on annual fundraising activities by the Olive team, which will be boosted by an Olive annual monetary donation, plus IT and communications equipment.

Members of the Olive team are also giving up their own time to volunteer and train as mentors for these young people.

The overall target is to raise enough to fund at least one additional full-time XLP support worker annually.

Pictured top: Martin Flick


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