The last time we talked to Director and Producer, Duro ‘2020’ Oye, he was thrilled to announce the Leicester Screen showing of the pioneering and innovative film ‘247365.’ Successfully illustrating the ‘real story’ on the streets, through the eyes of ex- gang affiliates, its skilful execution has effectively initiated productive dialogue and opened people’s eyes to the pivotal matters surrounding gang culture. However, as an illuminating advocate of change, Duro’s quest for change continues. Founder of the 2020 Change Foundation, he has just launched the revolutionary ‘Streets 2 Life’ Program, which aims to illustrate how showing Love to each Individual can assist the Fight for change, through Education. We caught up with him to talk about the inspiration behind this promising initiative and ended up trying to secure a VIP pass to his future tropical 2020 island.
What prompted you to set up the 2020 change foundation?
After the launch of the film, we realised that it was something that was needed and set it up to provide a strong ‘family’ network, which will essentially push the individual to strive for positive and better things. The government already have schemes and charities in place, but the people that need them are not benefiting. So we decided to build that bridge between the government and the community members who don’t ask for assistance from the Princes Trust, or go to the job centres.
You launched ‘Streets 2 Life’ a few days ago, so what did we miss?
This program is there to help people who want to make that transition from having that street mentality, to one that makes them into an honest law abiding member of society, (who wants to add positively to their local community). We want to encourage individuals to explore the hidden treasures of the mind, whilst focusing on their individuality. Two of our other objectives are to discover and maximise each individuals potential and raise sustainable, inspiring and honest new leaders, who will later give back to others. We invited a number of partners and different organisations to give them a better understanding of what we do, what we believe in and to let them know that we are open to work together to effect the change.
What was your inspiration?
The film and a lot of outside factors! I have always been passionate about young people and have always been someone that young people look to for guidance and advice. Coming from the same background, I have a lot of experience in this field. I have faced challenges and I learnt from them. Rather than watch others make the same mistake, I want to pass down the knowledge that I gained to help them minimise their mistakes and get to where they want to go faster. We are they to provide that help and encouragement, but they must be willing to put in the work to effect a change. Change does not come easy, but if you are willing to work, we are willing to help you!
What can one expect once they enroll on the Streets 2 Life program?
The target age range is 16-21 and we are looking for ex or current offenders, who have that burning desire to change. The individual has to make the decision for themselves as we believe it is 70% them and 30% us. It is a 12 month voluntary programme that is split into four parts. Each part lasts for three months, but remains but tailored to each individual. These are:
Mentality: The mindset is the most important part of any change, as one will only change their actions once they have altered their thinking. This part starts of as group sessions and workshops, but we try to bring in their individuality into it.
Education: Within three months, we look at what level they reached and if they wish to complete their qualifications, we help them.
Training: Whether it be apprenticeships, work experience, or pairing them up with someone who has a business in a particular field, we assist them to find appropriate connections.
Mentoring: The last crucial stage is where we get a mentor to give them that step by step guidance to help them achieve their goals.
The programme is set to take place in schools, prisons and the wider community, will you have to adapt to each different environment?
In schools, we will focus more on gang awareness, showing them what could happen and helping them make the right decisions. The prison is completely tailored on the mentality stage because they are incarcerated, but the aim is to keep them on file so when they come out, they have that support system. The community based programme is the full programme. We will hold group sessions of a class of 12- 15 people, where they bounce ideas off each other, with the help of a teaching guide. It will be openly structured, based on peoples input and be informal, yet interactive. We are also running creative workshops which will be delivered in each and every community. Areas of interest include photography, creative writing, fashion and web design. Eventually, we want to create a magazine to promote positive things within the community. From there we will channel advertising from local businesses and distribute freely monthly, or bi-monthly, depending on demand.
You are pivotal to this programme, but insistent that it is not a one-man quest. What can others do to help?
We are always recruiting and interviewing volunteers as the programme kicks off in August. Anybody who wants to give back to their community in any way, shape or form can help. We have a lot of people that want to help because they believe in us; it is our responsibility to channel that otherwise unemployment and youth crime will continue to rise.
You have set yourself a mammoth task to succeed where public bodies have failed, what do you think gives you the edge?
My background! I came from that background and took it upon myself to change! Everyone that is part of this organisation has a similar background; they have experiences that people can learn from. That is our selling point! We can get to places that the Prime Minister can’t and can engage people in conversations that no one else can. We are not funding driven, so we have no restrictions as to what we do or say. Eventually we want to take this program national and present it to the government with our 100% success rate.
You are a very inspirational individual, what words, quote, or saying motivates you?
‘I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)’
The first time I heard this scripture was from my Pastor. People think I’m crazy when I tell them that the place that I want to live in has not yet been created, but that was the first time I heard someone echo my thoughts. With the foundation, I am giving birth to my own family and when we are ready, we can go and live on the 2020 island. I have channelled myself to think the crazier the idea the easier for me to believe. If it’s not crazy I won’t believe it!