Leona Lewis and Plan B today attacked the education system for failing young people as they launched a project to offer 10,000 Hackney teenagers master classes with leading names from music, acting, fashion and radio.
Singer and rapper Plan B claimed that teenagers were being let down by the Government and needed the help that the BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra Hackney Academy will offer.
It will open next month in the run-up to Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend — the station’s pop festival to celebrate the Olympics. Lewis, 27, said: “I am from Hackney and grew up here and wanted to be involved and give back to the community.
“Everything boils down to money — there is not enough money for education or community groups. A lot of important groups are being shut down. This is to give young people an opportunity, to show them that people care and they are not going to be left behind.”
Lewis and fellow ambassador Plan B, of Forest Gate, will lead the sessions by giving Q&A sessions on how to succeed in the music industry.
Plan B, 28, said: “As a kid growing up in east London, I felt ignored, I felt I didn’t have a voice. These kids are getting no love. Money is an issue, but it’s also about spending time with them.
“The education they are getting is s**t. Life is not just about academics. They are not taught enough about real life — about things like sex and drugs.
“We need to encourage them that there is another way by getting them to express themselves and discover their true talents. That’s what they need. I can see that they don’t know the hard work that goes into it. None of this (success) was given to us.”
Labrinth, Dizzee Rascal, Lethal B and Rizzle Kicks will also hold music classes. Stylish singer Paloma and Radio1 DJ Fearne Cotton will host fashion seminars, while Ashley Walters, Adam Deacon and Riz Ahmed will teach young people about the film industry.
Dragons’ Den success Levi Roots will give business advice, and BBC presenters including Trevor Nelson and Gemma Cairney will share their knowledge of radio. Other practical workshops at the Hackney Picturehouse will give advice on CVs, interview skills, software development and journalism.
The academy, which will run from June 1 to 22, has been put together by Radio 1, BBC Learning and local organisations.
It will cater for Hackney school pupils and youth groups and applicants can register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Hackney Weekend is on June 23 and 24.