A charity worker believes young people in Bradford need strong role models to steer them away from a life of crime and sexual exploitation, and wants to try and start a new youth club to introduce them to these positive figures.

Gerry Hannah says too many young people in Bradford admire the wrong people in their communities, such as drug dealers, and his charity, Frizinghall-based Parenting Together, is putting together a scheme to try and change this.

Growing up in a rough part of Glasgow, Mr Hannah believes he could have easily gone down the wrong paths if not for the strong role models he encountered in his youth.

Over the coming weeks he will pitch his ideas to local businesses who could offer the charity financial or practical support.

Mr Hannah, who has worked with children with behavioural problems for 15 years, describes the problem as “Faganism”, in reference to the character from Oliver Twist who led children to a life of crime. He says that many children in the city’s most deprived areas come from single-parent families, and have a distorted view of success.

If successful with his funding, Mr Hannah plans to start a new youth club in the city, run by volunteers. Parenting Together would then work with the police to distance these children from the criminal lifestyle.

Mr Hannah said: “There is a lack of role models who are young professionals. These are the people we want our children to look up to. I am absolutely in awe of the people who work all day and then go out into the community and volunteer. These are the types of people we want children to look up to, people who can have a positive influence on these communities.

“We need role models for girls, too. They should see working women in strong positions. They don’t have to judge themselves by how ‘sexy’ they are or how much make-up they wear.

“In some of the poorer areas, the people with the posh cars aren’t the professionals, they are the drug dealers. A lot of these kids just don’t have anyone to lead them in the right direction. There aren’t enough youth clubs these days.”