Pressure mounts on Bristol City Council to reopen former youth club after teenagers' deaths

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More than 400 people have now signed a petition calling for Eagle House Youth Centre to return

There are growing calls for Bristol City Council to reopen a former youth club after the death of two teenage boys in the community.     

More than 400 people have now signed a petition calling for the Eagle House Youth Centre to return to Knowle West.   

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The building on Newquay Road, near where Mason Rist, 15 and Max Dixon, 16, were stabbed to death almost three weeks ago, has been used as a church since 2016.   

But campaigners have accused the tenants, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM), of not using the space for the local community. 

Green councillor Mohamed Makawi, whose motion proposing a raft of measures to tackle knife crime in Bristol was passed by the council last year, has lent his name to the Eagle House campaign. 

Speaking outside Eagle House Social Club, he told BristolWorld: “One of the demands in the motion is to reopen youth clubs.       

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“We should be working with youth organisations and funding them from the local authority and central government, for youth to have somewhere to go, be educated and have some fun with each other.    

“I don’t want our youth to be underneath the ground or behind bars, I want them to look for a brighter future.”   

Councillor Mohamed Makawi is backing the campaign for the former Eagle House Youth Centre to reopen Councillor Mohamed Makawi is backing the campaign for the former Eagle House Youth Centre to reopen
Councillor Mohamed Makawi is backing the campaign for the former Eagle House Youth Centre to reopen | Charlie Watts

Following the killings in Knowle West on January 27, there have been multiple knife crime-related incidents across Bristol. The latest being the death of a 16-year-old by stabbing in St Philip’s.   

Danica Priest, who is running to be a Green councillor in the Filwood ward, believes Knowle West is "in dire need of new youth services."  

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She said: “It’s not good enough to point to the Youth Zone, which is on the other side of the ward and hasn’t even been built yet, and say we are throwing all our money there so nothing else can be done.  

“The residents have been doing so much hard work for their community and we should be celebrating their efforts not silencing them. 

“They tried warning the council for years that knife crime was a problem and that local youth needed a place where they can feel safe but they were sadly ignored."   

The council has previously given the new £11m plus Youth Zone in Knowle West, a new youth centre expected to open in 2025, as a way it is investing in the area.    

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But campaigners are calling for investment in the Newquay Road area of Knowle West, where regular meetings have been held to tackle concerns around knife crime in this part of the estate.         

Margaret Rawlins, a Newquay Road resident, Eagle House Social Club chair and former Eagle House Youth Centre youth worker of 28 years, is among those calling for the facility to return.

She told BristolWorld: “It’s about listening to young people and what they have to say. I came across all walks of life, some came from battered homes and felt safe.”    

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Campaigners say they have a youth organisation ready to move into the building, which was run as a youth centre for decades until closing in 2014. 

Following the closure, the council leased the site to Nigerian Pentecostal church MFM for ten years in 2016 through a community asset transfer.  

But the branch has attracted criticism for only opening one day a week and for a member of the church living in the premises, which the pastor Tunde Adekele previously confirmed to be true.            

Elsewhere in the UK, MFM branches have attracted criticism for promoting a sermon on “witch hunting” and practising “gay conversion therapy”.  

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The former Eagle House Youth Centre has been run as a church since 2016 The former Eagle House Youth Centre has been run as a church since 2016
The former Eagle House Youth Centre has been run as a church since 2016 | Charlie Watts

A Bristol City Council said previously: “We remain in contact with the tenants to ensure the terms of the lease are adhered to.  

“Our Community Development team have written to the tenants to offer support in opening the building for community use.”  

Pastor Adekele refused to comment on this story, telling BristolWorld to instead contact MFM's UK headquarters, who have previously not responded to press enquiries on the matter.

The council has also previously said it will not offer MFM a new lease when it expires in May 2026.   

In the long-term, there are proposals to redevelop the wider Eagle House site for residential, youth and community use.