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Rachel Jennings

West Bromwich

With Creative Black Country, I was in the right place at the right time. We’d got a group of about eight children who’d started off a campaign trying to get the park open. We taught them how to debate, and how to get your voice heard without using your fists. We got the park reopened and the children really enjoyed it; they said: do you know what, we can start showing other children how to do it; we can get a voice out there. So I was at a meeting and I put a plea asking for second hand cameras and any other help. Liam from Creative Black Country was there, and he said: I’ve got an idea. We met with him, and it just went from there. Now we’re in our second year of funding. 

There are 28 young people in The Media Club. The older ones are looking at how to make and direct films; the younger ones are learning the basics. We’ve found that children who do something here at the weekend go to school and their concentration is a lot higher; they’re keen and motivated. The impact on some of the young people’s self confidence has been unbelievable. They’ve started their own YouTube channel, and what they really want to do is become a voice for West Bromwich and beyond, talking about what is important for young people. 

With Creative Black Country funding, we took them to the BBC studios in Birmingham, and then the BBC in Manchester. We’ve also introduced them to the theatre – some of them hadn’t been before. We took some of their parents too. We had a dad cry because he said he didn’t think he was worthy of going to a theatre, because it was for people who’d got money.

Some of the families have two or three generations who haven’t worked. These young people, by going to the BBC, have seen that they don’t necessarily need to have a university education, but they just need to do alright at school and then they can get an apprenticeship. That’s been an eye opener for quite a lot of them. 

The children have got the adults involved and now we’ve got a waiting list of adults who want their own media club. I’m looking for funding to set that up.

Photo: Stephen King