Each allocation is decided by a passionate bunch of sixteen to twenty-five year-old Camdenites, tasked with selecting which youth services to give a grant to, and help them work towards tackling knife crime and improving safety for young people in the wider borough.
Among the fortunate enterprises given funding was Action Youth Boxing Intervention (AYBI). We met coach and writer Lucy Pawlak to find out what the money means to her organisation.
“The project we’re using it for is quite experimental,” says Lucy. “It combines boxing, choreography, film-making practices, and collective creative writing.”
Outside the Ring is the name for the ongoing current project in which groups of teens identify and describe different kinds of violence within their community, and create a fight scene that will be turned into a short film.
Boxing and writing sessions run alongside each other. “Training is a great tool for thinking clearly in moments of high stress,” says Lucy. “It helps instil confidence, relieve anxiety, and offers a social support network, as well as being the perfect way to increase fitness.”
The text-based element incorporates different positions and perspectives on brutality, from being on the receiving end to subjecting someone. “There are so many layers,” says Lucy. Once drafted by the youngsters, a voice-over will be recorded.
To assist with the endeavour, the group is going to spend time with the UK’s leading stage and screen combat company RC-Annie. “We’ll have a day with them learning techniques and camerawork,” says Lucy.
Following that, filming can ensue. “Roles will be given according to who’s interested in what,” says Lucy. “We’ll build something quite simple and abstract, and then the material can be edited.”
Running the programme with Lucy is CEO and founder of AYBI Albert McEyeson. “He integrates training with therapy,” says Lucy. “His angle relates to irrational beliefs, and targets areas such as why young people join gangs, and decide that it’s necessary to protect themselves by carrying a weapon. He’s a really great mentor.”
The strategy brings together Albert’s background with Lucy’s involvement in the arts, and is an exciting way of offering various skills. “We both find working with kids super exciting,” says Lucy.
“They’re intelligent and full of important observations regarding the state of affairs we’re currently in, because they’re the ones living it.”
Lucy would love the end product to be screened. “It would be great to hold an event – perhaps at Regent’s Place – with games, discussion and debate,” she says.
“In a dream scenario, teams from different parts of London each produce something using the same remit, generating conversation and empathy, establishing unity, and breaking down barriers through sharing common experiences.”
Whatever the outcome, voices will be heard, consciousness raised, and the formula will be developed for the future.