BY KATE DENNETT
A music company has launched a series of community talks in a bid to reduce urban youth violence.
The Midi Music Company (MMC) will hold a series of three community talks on Wednesday evenings across August.
Real Talk takes place at the firm’s creative space in Deptford, and opens up conversation about youth violence.
The Midi Music Company wants to support the community in an open and supportive place, and work together to make positive change.
Anyone who lives, works or is interested in Deptford is welcome to attend the free events.
MMC is a music education charity which helps vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people achieve their goals.
“It is coming up to its 25th anniversary next January, and continues to provide seminars, courses and careers advice for young people up to the age of 30.
Past members include award-winning Jazz FM Breakthrough Act 2017 Yussef Dayes, and one of the Top 100 Influencers 2019, according to Big Issue, deaf UK hip-hop artist, SignKid.
MMC’s community talks last more than two hours and welcome guest speakers and local experts to share their views.
PR & Media Coordinator at MMC, Andrea Jeffrey-Hall, said: “We were looking into the area and noticed an increase in violent crime.
We wanted to do something about it. We came up with this idea of bringing the community together – the notion being that it takes a community to bring up one child, not just one or two individuals.
“Young people are at the heart of what we do. It is hard to do that if they are having a hard life and struggling with so many other issues. If we can help to take worry away then we will.”
There are musical performances from MMC artists and experience-sharing workshops as well as the chance to listen to experts.
Award-winning psychotherapist Glenda D Roberts is hosting one-on-one sessions between 4pm and 6pm before each session.
The sessions are run with Just Talk 2019 and welcome anyone who would like to talk in a private setting.
This gives young people the chance to get professional help and support as well as kindness from their community.
The first talk, on Wednesday, will focus on young people and policing. Speakers Nickiesha Barnett, from the Lewisham Crime Reduction Team, and William Willson, the founder of Flipping Youth Princes Trust International, will headline at the event.
There will also be a question-and-answer session with a young person affected by crime.
Sheila Montserrat, from STAGE 7, and Beverley Glean, the founder and artistic director of IRIE! dance theatre, will talk about young people and the community on August 21.
This talk aims to challenge how young people are represented in the media and youth stereotypes and negativity.
Andrea said: “If we can actually get different age groups in the same place then we can get a spark to start conversation that doesn’t go away in a day.
“Sometimes there is a ‘them and us’ and often young people don’t know who to go to or who to talk to. There are council resources that people do not even know they can use sometimes.”
The last workshop, on August 28, will show young people the opportunities that are available to them in the workplace. They will look at creative industries, business and sports in detail to show young people the variety of careers they have on offer.
The founder and executive director of MMC, Wozzy Brewster, and the founder and director of Drummer Boy Studio and the 56 Black Men campaign, Cephas Williams, will speak at the event.
Andrea said: “We have had a really good reaction and so many people are interested and keen.
“We are from a diverse area so there are a mix of established to less established people and companies involved.
“We are trying to cast the net wide to get as many people along as possible. Whether they live in the area or are interested in the subject, we want to help them.”
You are able to reserve your place for the talks on MMC’s Eventbrite page.
It has been working with Lewisham council to form the Deptford Pledge. This long-term project will create a community promise to help people support one another and end youth violence.
Andrea said: “If anyone has had experiences then they can come here and be able to talk about it. Just up the road from where we are there was a little seven-year-old killed in his home. It is those little things that really stick out for us.
“We want to give people opportunities who wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance – whether that is music or a trade.
We believe that music is a thing to bring everyone together and we are heavily subsidised to teach people music and help young people however we can.
If there are things going on outside of what we do to help young people then we want to clear the path for them.”