Last Thursday (May 17) I was privileged enough to attend the Futureversity Dine for the Future event held at the prestigious Savoy hotel. I dined well, I was entertained and taught how to Bangra dance by Britains Got Talent stars ‘Signature’ and then watched as people handed over what equated to to over £30,000 in an auction. But why? Why were people paying £600 for a golf bag? Well, it was a fund raiser for much needed funds to support the ongoing work that Futureversity does.
Futureversity is an organisation which really has drive and purpose in changing people’s lives. Unless you were living in a cave last summer, you cannot have escaped noticing that a long smouldering powder keg literally ‘went up’. An event coupled with cuts, coupled with ill-feeling and feelings of neglect and let down by society, caused the capital to erupt. Riots, looting, public disorder, the nation needed a scape goat and sadly (more often than not) the scape goat tends to be youth culture. Clearly these perpetrators are those out to make trouble for trouble’s sake, they all wear Nike trainers and they all wear hoodies – string ‘em up!
But that’s a very big portion of the population to tar with a very big brush. Futureversity understands that. Why should the youth of today take the blame for riots, street crime, drug crime and pretty much everything else too simply because of culture, area or level of education?
Rushanara Ali is of the Futureversity alumni – one of the very first in fact and 10 years ago when she was starting to find her way in the world, so was Futureversity. She was one of the very first people to benefit from getting involved with them and assist in founding the organisation. 10 years later she is the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow. Not one of the most glamorous constituencies but it’s her local one. She understands the problems, she understands the constituents. Social problems do not need to be a barrier to someone’s advancement.
During her address she explained how Futureversity helped change her perception of the world, of people, of life. 10 years on and she’s a pillar of the community, one of the people responsible for the running of this country. Big step huh?
During the night it dawned on me; sensationalists who look for the scapegoats, the reactionaries, the people who believe everything they see on TV or in papers and form their opinions without having firsthand experience of cultures, neighbourhoods or youth issues, jump on the bandwagon of blame. They herald the opinion that ‘the country is in trouble and youth is to blame – the lazy layabouts!’
What these people fail to remember is that today’s youth is tomorrow’s country. Many people in the 16-25 bracket do not care for the perception they have in the media. There are many success stories of people ‘making good’ but these are far outweighed by a majority of people who feel let down by society or that society is actually against them. Why shouldn’t someone from a Hackney estate work for an investment bank? Why shouldn’t someone from Mitcham start their own business? Why shouldn’t someone from Tower Hamlets go on to chart success? Oh wait; he did. Dizzee Rascal is a patron of Futureversity – and a former student.
Futureversity sees beyond the stereotypes and sees the potential in people and teaches and nurtures that potential to come to the surface and shine. But they have a huge potential pool of students and there are only a finite number of big business that will alone look to give someone their life-changing break. And that sadly, is what is lacking in London and indeed the nation today. A phrase I often quote is a simple one; ‘If you believe, you can achieve.’ If you want something hard enough you WILL work for it – and Futureversity can give you the help you need to get that job offer from Barclays, Credit Suisse and a host of other organizations (Those 2 are also supporters of Futureversity by the way).
In Flavour magazine’s history it has given aspiring journalists, photographers, designers and writers opportunities to showcase their work, to interview people like Alexandra Burke, Adam Deacon and so many others. We support the talent that’s out there and will continue to do so – just as Futureversity does.
To find out more about Futureversity and the work they do check out their website at www.futureversity.org.