This was not actually ‘my’ Bafta speech, but an introduction I made, at Bafta, to an awe inspiring film project created and managed by Livity, you can read more about that, here.
I’ll never forget the day I arrived at Livity’s office to find a young man waiting on the doorstep who’d been released from Feltham that morning.
Unlike many of the 200 young people a month who find their way to Livity, he had no idea what he wanted to do, he’d just been promising himself he was going to do anything, and he knew that Livity would give him something to do.
Something To Do, such important, but underestimated, overlooked and misunderstood words.
Because in what we do, in what we make, we find the creative sparks
that light our interests, fuel our passions build our confidence, refine our skills and ultimately define our sense of purpose.
On the morning in question, we did of course, give him something to do, and because we are Livity, we gave give him something both creative and practical to do.
And it did spark an interest, he came to the office regularly until he had a permanent position on the magazine, and became a positive, creative influence on the other young people, and eventually he got a place at Jamie Olivers Fifteen.
But before he left us, one morning we came into the office to the sound of a 2 Step bassline. Before 9:30 he’d built a speaker stack, wired up his decks and short only of lights, smoke and a vodka and tonic had transformed the office into a dance floor.
I asked what he thought he was doing, he replied, he’d seen how hard every one was working and this might cheer them up.It did.
It was a very different way to be welcomed to work by him than how I’d met him, just a month or so before, but he’d found himself something to do that day, and even if it was a bit over enthusiastic, there’s no question it was an ambitious, creative, imaginative, thoughtful and purposeful thing to do.
And it’s a similar spark we tried to light in the young men who made tonight’s film, to ignite an interest that might propel them towards a passion that might help them create healthy, successful and happy futures for themselves, and for the rest of us.
And actually, if that means they all end up starting a disco in our office, I’ll be happy, we can work with that.
In fact, it is the stated ambition of this project a film making initiative, working with Young Offenders inside the Isis unit, to increase the chances of the young men who took part to connect with services like Livity on their release.
So whilst it is a creative endeavour, the idea is also indelibly locked into reducing recidivism, all the young people involved even received a qualification along the way.
Sadly, none of those young men who created Isis films, who wrote, edited and exec produced tonight’s feature presentation, can actually be here, because, like approximately 2000 other young people in the UK, tonight they are held in custody.
And as they remain in their cells, aware that we’re here tonight celebrating their achievement, and looking forward to the screening that will take place at Isis in a few weeks, it is all of our hope that the bridges we’ve created will also bring them to our office, whether it’s to create more film projects, turn the office into a rave, or just to find something To Do.
There are considered to be 12 Risk Factors associated with proven re-offending, that range from Substance Misuse to Living Arrangements, young people with up to 2 Risk Factors in place upon release tend to have a 30% chance of reoffending in year one, rising to an 80 – 90% chance if over 10 Risk Factors are in place.
The only heart-warming thing about this list is that it does mean that we, as a society, know the causes, and even the solutions to reducing offending rates.
It’s a logical, but also quite tragic list of apparently avoidable, sometimes circumstantial, always disproportionately associated with certain groups of young people, factors which contribute towards reoffending.
But, alongside this logical approach to reducing re-offending, we need to add a little magic.
Based on the logical facts around this project, and it’s chances of success, their were numerous barriers, to it’s progress. There was scepticism and criticism to overcome, and there were obvious and understandable logistical challenges along the way.
But, in light of the magic that happened, when the young people came together around the formation of a business, albeit a hypothetical one, and the creative process they collectively embarked on, and the profoundly rewarding feeling that only comes when you have something really great and creative to do, it looks like it might happen again, and what we’re about to see, may be the pilot for a much broader creative program. Depending on how much you whoop and applaud.
So even though the guys who made Getting Clean haven’t even seen the finished piece yet, they know we’re watching it tonight, and they’ll have their own screening soon, so tonight maybe we can all be proud for them.
And hope that soon some of their own pride in what they’ve achieved, propels them through the practical reality of risk factors, and helps them find their way to Livity, as an advance party for many others, proving that creativity can help overcome chaos and uncertainty and that inspiration can lead to ambition, and that having something of meaning and consequence, To Do, can create a powerful enough focus for another chance at life.