Words: Junior
Interviewer: Alicia Edmund (Communications and Policy Manager)

I was first introduced to Leap back in 2017 when I was referred by youth offending team. At 16 years old, I was young, reserved and a little reluctant to join Leap’s Leadership and Choice to Change programme, but I decided to stay because I was drawn to the energy of the project worker involved in course. Sometimes you can tell when an adult working with young people is there only because it’s their job and they are paid to do it, but not with him, I could tell that he truly cared about my progression and my experience. That was important to me.

Three years on and I am still involved with Leap, speaking at taster workshops, presenting at annual awards and increasingly involved in amplifying the voice and needs of young people across the organisation. I would describe those working at Leap as extended family and I am always excited to hear from them and learn more about other opportunities I can get involved in.

2020 has been a year of reflection and growth. For the first few weeks of lockdown I was excited – I got to stay at home, relax more, enjoy life at a slower pace and then it all changed. Week three of lockdown I was furloughed, anxious about lockdown and having little to no money. I found the whole thing overwhelming mentally and life got worse. Fast forward, to July and my job let me go. Now, I am spending weeks applying for so many jobs and not receiving any replies or interviews. The three months of intense lockdown was a battlefield of the mind. I began to question my past achievements, who I was as a person, what I wanted to do in life and how I was going to move forward. Around this time Leap’s new Progression Routes Officer, Aaliyah reached out to find out what (if any) support I needed.

To be honest, I was sceptical at first because I knew Leap, but I didn’t know Aaliyah and it took a while to form the same bond I did with the previous worker. But our first interaction went better than I expected. Aaliyah is proactive in supporting me to find work opportunities or form relationships with creative organisations connected to Leap. Our one-to-one sessions were a great opportunity to develop my creativity. The sessions were focused around teaching me new skills like planning, project management and sourcing funding streams to finance my own short film.

Thanks to Leap, I got work experience with a studio based in Brixton. Whilst working with Renaissance Studios I was helping as a runner – setting up the filming space and preparing video equipment. We were working on an online workout and mental health campaign for the client’s charity event, that was really cool. One thing I loved about the experience, that reinforced how much I love camera work, is that even thought I was working as a runner, I was given the opportunity to operate the camera by myself which usually doesn’t happen. Instead of being the ‘help’ I felt like I was part of the team, a full-time colleague rather than work experience. It really gave me more ideas and avenues to explore my own photography projects.

Looking ahead I am driven to create and build my own production company. In my previous job, I was working with YouTubers, social media influencers, big brands and so I believe I have the right work ethic to achieve great things. This generation is hungry for opportunities, for change, for a chance to get our opinions heard and our views to be taken seriously. Young people are the future. Yes, creative and corporate organisations have ideas but young creatives offer different solutions and perspectives. We are innovative by nature. I think if young people received financial backing and given opportunities, we would produce incredible content and original work. We would be a powerhouse if given the chance. I want to be given the chance!

My hopes for the future? It’s hard to say to be honest as the opportunities received have broadened my thinking. However, one thing is certain, I am going to be in movie! I mean that both figuratively and literally. I definitely plan to pursue a photography videography, cinematography career. I really want to broaden my experience in these sectors so that I can be better equipped to create my projects.

To support other Leap graduates through our progressions support, you can give online or connect with our team creating employment opportunities with Leap graduates following a course.