Charity and the celebrity challenge

The evening of youth empowerment with Trey Songz was a great success for the young people that attended… I think.. Lot of screaming young girls in audience who were making a lot of noise which not so sure had anything to do with empowerment… more to do with lust!! lol .. I know that our young SOLA ambassadors connected with the youth empowerment theme of the event though and some of the questions and interaction with the singer made for good content.. Dean Atta from our class of 2009 and Mizz Camara from 2010 both performed and were beyond excellent.. Proud? I was bursting!

BET (Black entertainment television) UK who hosted the event got themselves a unique television experience to screen.. what did Trey Songz get out of the event? Well apart from media exposure I am not really sure at this stage as apart from about a minute and a half I did not get any time to communicate with him…. Richard Taylor did a lot of publicity shots with him and apart from that it was press interviews and BET filming… We are promised more time with him when he comes back to the UK in April. We shall see….. The brief time I got to speak to him and from my observation of his interaction with the young people I feel he genuinely would like to support the work we are doing…… So many people surround these artists with so many different agendas it can be tough to properly connect though..

BET did a text number donation campaign over a few days for us so will be interesting to see if that made any kind of contribution… In our experience these things dont work too well for charities like ours.. Tackling youth violence – youth empowerment etc.. not got the same emotional heart string pull of child illness charity.. and why should it have? The government should be funding is the general concensus!

So what did the Damilola Taylor Trust get out of the event…. At this stage two days on it is fair to say that we will not find out for a while yet – Our youngsters had a great time and that was enough for me to view it as a success – The Artist and his management have declared the collaboration as a partnership though so we can expect more I would hope…. Celebrity is like a drug.. some people crave it and some people run a mile… For me the celebrities I want to deal with are the unsung heroes struggling to get out of the tough inner city areas luck decreed they should be brought up in. Working with established celebrity can boost the appeal of your work in the eyes of the media and sponsors…. It can also light up the lives of young people who you can involve directly with the glamour and this has advantages…

You have to be so careful though… Imagine having Wayne Rooney involved with an anti youth violence charity when he suddenly has a rush of blood to the head and commits GBH in front of millions on TV cameras…… What hope would the charity have of not being tarnished by association..

Then there is Ashley Cole shooting people with his airgun that he just happened to pop into training with.. As you do! With Ashley I am reminded of an old TV comedy classic DADS ARMY when captain Mainwaring used to refer to private Pike as a “stupid boy” – There are certainly enough instances of gross stupidity to suggest this is a fitting tag.. What a shame as like with Rooney he is such a talent and idolised by millions.. Why cant the football industry get its house in order – Perhaps they should employ “super nanny” to look after the players!!

Hey please dont anyone read this wrong….. We have had some bad experiences with celebrity attaching itself to the Trust but this is far from that kind of experience…. Young Mr Songz has real empathy and genuine intentions to support our work I am sure of that…. what we do with empowering young people is fairly unique after all…

Lets see if we can get any leeway through his management to make anything of the opportunity… I sure hope so.. Screaming girls aside.. he gets the issues we are dealing with he clearly does.. We dont use the term Ghetto much here in the UK but he used it without a second thought… It is what it is right?… Mr Songz we are going to be looking to get you to perform at The Spirit of London Awards make no mistake sir…

We are also going to try and take you out to meet some of our young people in their personal domains when you next visit town….

Anyone reading this who has not checked out the young mans tunes by the way make sure you do so….. As quite a few of our young people remarked the other night…..

Like our Mayor Boris..


G x


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