We have just launched an indiegogo fundraiser to raise the rent for the next year for our base in Sierra Leone. Without our home we cannot do what we do so please support it
WAYout is now in it’s ninth year and we’ve seen the life-changing benefits we can bring to street youth. Now, over 3000 WAYout members need a home. Prices have gone up in Sierra Leone following Ebola and the subsequent economic crisis and we need to raise the rent to stay in our home. The WAYout studio is a safe haven replacing hopelessness, judgement and stigma with purpose, creativity, acceptance, training, homes, opportunity, facilities and inspiration.
“WAYout helped me change my life completely. I was idle on the streets, no help from parents. People looked down on me” – Alusine, who is now a full time filmmaker and teaches others.
The WAYout Story so far…
WAYout was founded in Sierra Leone in 2008 by Hazel and Michael Chandler. It came out of a documentary Hazel was making about street youth in Kenema and was set up to offer free training and facilities in media, music and arts to street and disadvantaged young people. Many were ex combatants and most were traumatised by the conflict and alienated from community and education.
We have worked with over 3,000 street and disadvantaged youth since then.
There was already a body of research about the power of the arts to engage and change lives but nothing quite prepares you for seeing that first hand. Long term, disengaged street youth could keep their cool and define what they wanted to do through music and movies; learning specific skills but also things like communication, literacy, co-operation, empathy and team work without even realising it. Again and again we have seen them reconnect with family or community after years apart, gain self esteem through creativity, develop the confidence to start or return to education or get jobs and find self respect and a sense of their own identity and ability. The magic happens the moment they go from hanging out and doing something because it is cool and they’ve nothing better to do, to the realisation that they could, perhaps, be somebody and achieve something. Then they get stuck in and start learning; proving to their communities, families and themselves, that they count, after years of being told they will never amount to anything.
WAYout has an open door policy and we encourage new members to find what they are good at rather than push them through a set pattern of training. We also offer grants to members who have been coming for at least six months and are serious about learning, to find them homes, for travel to reconnect with family or to return to education.
WAYout would not be WAYout without its home – a building in a compound that houses the two recording studios funded by the Joe Strummer Foundation, the photoshop room, two editing rooms and a dedicated women’s room with a large outdoor space for teaching, dancing or rehearsing.
“It means a lot to us. We’re going to make very good use of this home. WAYout has done a lot for the youth who are living on the streets. Youth with talent who are now making a mark out there” – David Conteh on the day we moved into the building.
It really is an amazing space, and provides a sense of home and community to all the street youth that use it.
But following the recent Ebola crisis prices have gone up, funding has gone down and we need to pay the rent.
We need your help to raise the rent.
We’ve achieved so much already:
WAYout members have made award winning films from comedy to awareness raising documentaries on subjects like Ebola, Illegal Fishing, FGM and women’s rights- reaching audiences of hundreds of thousands.
We have worked on films creating a positive image of disability with the Dorothy Springer Trust and sexual health with Marie Stopes.
In the studio we have recorded over 1000 tracks and 11 albums. The Black Street Family, once notorious gangsters, have completely changed their image through having access to a free studio to record their music.
810 course certificates have been awarded to WAYout members
72 members have been found homes whilst others have received travel or education grants.
We have a writers group who are shooting their first feature film and a trail blazing women’s group.
Some WAYout members now have jobs as senior editors, camera operators and presenters at all three National TV stations and some successfully work freelance.
We have had award winning volunteers come out and offer training in writing, filmmaking, editing, music, producing, photoshop, photography, radio production and animation and now WAYout members pass on that knowledge and do a lot of the training.
We have new outreach projects in some of the poorest most neglected communities in the country.
Frank Turner recently visited WAYout and is now a patron. “It’s the only aid group that helps them self realise…and gives real, vital value to their lives.”
We could achieve so much more.
We are trying to raise £4000 to cover the rent for a year.
In return we have some great perks- signed books from patron Nick Hornby and signed albums from patron Frank Turner as well as theatre tickets and thank you photos and a song from WAYout members.
If we do not reach our goal your money still goes towards the rent and if we go over the goal it will pay the rent and towards core costs, including paying for members grants and salaries for staff (all of whom are ex-street youth). It is very hard to get core cost funding so every penny counts.
We are a 100% charity- meaning every pound goes to the work we do. And you can help even if you cant donate, by passing this on to friends and colleagues.
Our patrons are comedian/writer Mark Thomas, actor Ellen Thomas, musician Frank Turner and writer Nick Hornby.
Thank you to all your support, from all of the WAYout members.
Speaking about the work of WAYout, Frank Turner says:Now that the dust has, for me, settled a little, I can see the enormous value in what they do. One of the comments made to me often by the kids at the project was that they were the only aid group who treated them as individuals, who helped them self-realise. Since starting, more than 2,700 Sierra Leonean kids have passed through the program. It’s not a panacea, these people weren’t “saved” from the situation they were born into, but the project gives real, vital value to their lives.
He joins other patrons – Mark Thomas, Nick Hornby and Ellen Thomas.
WAYout is delighted to welcome Nick Hornby as a patron to join Mark Thomas and Ellen Thomas in supporting WAYout.
Nick Hornby is the author many books including the novels, High Fidelity, About a Boy, How To Be Good, A Long Way Down (shortlisted for the Whitbread Award) Slam and Juliet, Fever Pitch and Naked. Fever Pitch, About a Boy, High Fidelity and A Long Way Down were adapted for the big screen. Nick Hornby has also been given many awards for his contribution to English Literature which include the ‘Los Angeles Times Book Prize (2006) and ‘Commonwealth Writers Prize’ (2006). He has been given the name ‘The maestro of the male confessional’ for the brilliant portrayal of his male characters in his early novels.
Nick also produces and writes screenplays, adapting Lynn Barber’s memoir An Education, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn for screen.
Music has always been important in his life. He has been in collaboration with rock band ‘Marah’, touring America and Europe with them. He also wrote songs for the album ‘Lonely Avenue’ by the singer Ben Folds.
We are delighted to have received funding from The Evan Cornish Foundation to support training and outreach for disadvantaged and street women. We opened a dedicated women’s room at WAYout, last year. and it was equipped with the support of The Mercers Charity 600. Now we are building on, have created jobs for female trainers and are setting up teaching groups. This is an ongoing, growing project. Watch this space!
WAYout is very happy to be working with Street Child to produce over 100 short videos to promote their campaign to support mothers so that they can send their children to school. WAYout has worked with Street Child for some time, especially during the Ebola crisis when our photographer, Josta Hopps, had one of his pictures on the front page of the Observer.
WAYout has worked with the Black Street Family for four years and has seen them go from notorious gangsters to serious musicians. Public perception of them has changed, people are no longer afraid. They have completed three albums and the latest “Family Affairs” will be released and launched on 4th March at the Globe Theatre, Freetown. Black Street videos are frequently on national television and the tracks are played on local radio stations.
Fal G, GDD, XYZ, 2 POUND, Star Geezy, Drama MC, Milladaire
It’s been another busy few months at WAYout, and a lot has been happening both during the Ebola crisis and after.
– The end of ebola – The country was declared officially Ebola free and we did a report on WAYout during Ebola – see here
After Ebola film
– Certificates – We held the first certificate giving since Ebola and 89 certificates were given for photoshop, editing- beginners and advanced, logic
WAYout certificate event
– WAYout produced 5 films and an album by five traditional musicians with kind support from the Prince Claus Foundation. These covered subjects such as disability in Sierra Leone, FGM, live as an ex-child soldier, and the musicians we worked with.
Cover of one of the films made
Yalaba with the CDs
– WAYout Grants – 8 new people have been provided grants to set up their own homes, and 2 more in education – one literacy (a young woman, quite rare in Sierra Leone) and one WASSCE (the equivalent of a UK A level). WAYout also funded and supported several visits to long lost family, and funded 2 new business start ups.
– BBC Broadcast – “After the Jungle”, about Mash P, an ex-child soldier trying to rebuild his life through music at WAYout, was broadcast on BBC News and many partner broadcasters and was shared a lot via social networks. Following on from making the film, Mash P’s music videos and tracks have had a surge in support and airplay.
– Computers and Women’s Room – New computers arrived, thanks to ‘Computers for Africa’. One was specifically for our Womens’ Room. We still need more, as demand is still very high!
– We also secured some funding from the Mercers Guild to equip the women’s room which has begun.
The Women’s Room with computers donated by ‘Computers for Africa’
– The Writers group shot their first half hour drama about rape called “Damaged Heart”. This was a big thing, a massive learning exercise and a sensitive approach to rape. The result is looking really good.
Filming ‘Damaged Heart’
– WAYout Celebration event for The Way Group – the group of street youth-turned-film-makers held a celebration of their work. The attitude of the community and family had changed towards them since they joined The Way Film group. However, their communities didnt really know what they did – so the event invited the community down, and we showed films and played the music they have made over the last 3 years. We had great attendance, including family members that hadn’t seen them in years. The Way group really enjoyed it too.
There have been 257 Way members and about 50 are regular attendees.
The Way Film Group celebration event
– ‘Freedom’ design competition – We ran another photoshop competition on the theme of Freedom.
– On the radio – We’ve recorded the 30 minute radio show for Share Radio here in London. More news on that soon.
– In the studio – Black Street Family and Wanted getting lots of radio play and videos on TV and feeling famous but still no money. Will probably do a show in March if Africell support us. Also Fisherman on the radio a lot and planning a launch in March.
– UK Collaborations – between Black Street, Wanted, Che and Mash P with UK producers and singers are producing some great results. Thanks to producer Jay and singer Shelly.
– Live reggae album – It took a while, but WAYout has produced our first live reggae album, by Jahman. We hope it gets some good attention.
– Volunteers – we continue to benefit from volunteers. Hannah McInerny is currently out there teaching keyboards and music productions – but we could always benefit from more. Please get in touch if you’re interested!
George Wyndham came into WAYout to ask if he could train to be a journalist. He is a sportsman but knew that it could not last forever and as he sleeps on the floor of his coach’s office we decided he qualified to come to WAYout. But George’s career as a table tennis player is by no means over. He survived poverty, polio and conflict and won international medals for his country in table tennis. Ebola stopped him getting to the China qualifier but George is fighting back. We raised funding for George and he is now at the qualifiers in Australia and we hope he will be going for gold at the paralympics in Brazil 2016. But he needs your help to get him there and we will be fundraising again soon to support George.