Youth unemployment is a huge problem in this country. 17.8 % – that’s around 850,000 of 16-24 don’t have a job! Of these, 700,000 have NEVER had a job. It’s hard to imagine just how miserable and soul destroying that must be, as well as the knock on cost to society.
This week I heard how one charity in London has helped turn the lives around of over a quarter of a million young people!
Bigga Fish is an incredible charity. Set up 15 years ago – its founder Nii Sackey wanted to help provide opportunities to the young and disadvantaged – through music and the arts.
Ms Dynamite aka Niomi Arleen Mclean spoke movingly at the launch of the foundation for the charity of how Bigga Fish helped turn her life around.
She left home at 15 feeling angry and misunderstood. She felt as though she had no place in the world and the world had no place for her. Through Bigga Fish she found her voice – literally and metaphorically, finding someone to listen to her and nurture her talents. The charity helps young people at a crucial point in their lives find a goal and a purpose and move on.
Hosting the launch of the foundation of this fabulous charity was a real eye opener for me. As a journalist I’m often reporting on the huge numbers of unemployed youth. But we rarely hear what’s being done to help them.
Well Bigga Fish is one of the organisations helping these same people learn new skills – specifically in the notoriously hard to enter, music industry. It provides opportunities for young adults to gain experience in producing, marketing and managing showcase events and has provided a platform for new music artists not least Dizzee Rascal, N-Dubz and Ms Dynamite.
There are an impressive number of well known artists that Bigga Fish can include in its ranks. Hearing Ms Dynamite perform her first acoustic set in many years on the night was phenomenal, however it was hearing the life changing stories from some of the other young people that really hit a nerve.
They spoke movingly of how Bigga Fish had helped them move forward positively through gaining creative, entrepreneurial and leadership skills. We heard how their Street Team trained them to build careers and businesses in the media and entertainment sectors, and others to go to college to study a range of subjects.
So much in life is about confidence and believing in yourself. Yet so many people unfortunately don’t have that positive start in life from their families or the education system. Charities like Bigga Fish and the people who work for them are real heroes of this Country. We should all do what we can to support them and the amazing work they do changing young peoples’ lives.