A group of young people in North East Lincolnshire have come together to mark the launch of the latest in a trio of films about child criminal exploitation.
The film, Ryan’s Story, follows the launch of Alfie’s Story and Chloe’s Story, and gives viewers a chance to make choices on behalf of Ryan, a young person at the centre of the latest film.
The films are part of the Not In Our Community campaign, funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside, and was commissioned by North East Lincolnshire Council’s Young and Safe Team, bringing together young people from the local area to co-create a piece of interactive media.
Young people involved in the project came together for the inaugural screening of the film at Parkway Cinema in Cleethorpes.
The storylines follow paths based on Ryan joining either a local or out of town organised crime group. From there, the character of Ryan wrestles with his conscious and the consequences of the violent world he inhabits.
The young people advising the project agreed it was important that the film felt realistic and that once in these kinds of situations there are no right and safe options you can make. Their message is that wherever possible you should avoid getting involved in drug dealing and organised crime in the first place.
Whilst the story goes down different routes based on real life events, we see that ultimately Ryan does have a choice of whether or not he can trust people who want to help him get his life back on track.
The story and characters were led by the young people and brought to life by writer and producer John Gilbert, Managing Director of eskimosoup along with members of the Young and Safe Team and the Graft Project.
The young people involved in the project also worked with Beats Bus Records to write and produce a soundtrack to the film, called Trapped Ambition.
Some of the young people also took on acting roles as key characters and selected additional actors for roles with the help of Grimsby-based film and TV actor, Thomas Turgoose.
Police and Crime Commissioner Jonathan Evison said “I’m a strong believer in early intervention, providing young people and communities the tools to protect themselves. Not In Our Community works closely with young people and with partners to develop strong campaign messages and impactful innovative resources to raise awareness of child exploitation.
“A partnership approach is vital in tackling these issues and I am grateful to North East Lincolnshire Council for working with our campaign and for investing in this high impact awareness raising resource.”
Councillor Ian Lindley, portfolio holder for children, education and skills at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “This is yet another incredibly powerful piece of work produced locally and involving our young people, exploring the theme of child criminal exploitation.
“Child criminal exploitation remains one of the biggest threats to young people, with about 46,000 children thought to be involved in gangs nationally, and some 4,000 young people being exploited in London alone.
“In North East Lincolnshire, we’re not immune to these problems, so projects like this are vital because they give young people and their parents and carers an opportunity to learn about these issues, spot the signs, and know how to avoid becoming embroiled in these types of criminal exploitation.
“I’m really grateful to the young people that worked on this project, along with the staff from the Council’s Young and Safe team and GRAFT (Gaining Respect and Finding Trust) project, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and writer and producer, John Gilbert.”
Writer and producer John Gilbert said: “People who’ve seen the film tell us that it feels real in a way that hasn’t been done before. The young people who steered the project had a clear idea of the messages we needed to get across and a style that would make young people stop and think about the issues the film raises.
“I’m so pleased that the lads feel that we’ve got it right and full credit to them for putting in the effort and pushing themselves out of their comfort zone by doing things like writing, acting and even performing on the soundtrack.
“I’m excited to see how people react and hope it becomes a valuable tool in the work against organised crime in our area.”
Founded in 2014 and funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside, Not In Our Community is a campaign that uses media to help young people protect themselves and their friends from grooming and exploitation.
Ryan’s Story is being published as an interactive film supported by standalone films and lessons plans for use in schools, youth services and targeted working. The film and resources are available at www.notinourcommunity.org