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Plan B's Plan to Help the Young

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I got very irritated during the festival in Cannes by critics and reporters alike remarking that Plan B's debut movie Ill Manors is 'bleak.'

I'm not sure what it is about 'bleak' that annoyed me so much but I tend to feel that the word has a dismissive quality that suggests that nothing good can come out of watching the movie.

But I whole-heartedly disagree that this is the case, as I hope that it will make people aware of lives that are very different from their own.

Just in case you don't know, the movie intertwines several tales of young people growing up in Forest Gate in East London. They are all based on real-life incidences, according to the press notes.

These stories are extreme but there again the characters are all extremely damaged people. These include violent drug dealers, novice gang members, prostitutes, sex slaves and ruthless street-level entrepreneurs.

This might sound like just another typical Brit flick about gangsters and whores, but it truly isn't.

What makes the film special is that Plan B illustrates each of the principal character's backstories soon after they appear with lavish music videos.

While you feel electrified by the style of the music and the complexity of the editing, you get to subliminally understand why these characters have ended up behaving the way they do - and that nearly always comes down to neglect.

When I chatted to Plan B about the film (there's a video attached to this blog), he made it clear that it's his mission to save these people from neglect and give them guidance:-

"I'm starting my charity which is going to work more like a trust to bring in money and give money to what I call vigilante social workers - people that are living in these environments doing good things within their communities, trying to change the kind of negative upbringing that these kids are having and doing positive things."

My meeting with Plan B reminded me of another interview I carried out with director Lukas Moodysson, who came up with the heart-breaking 'Lilya 4-Ever' - about a girl who falls prey to the dark worlds of human trafficking and sexual slavery.

When I asked him how he discovered the story, he told me to 'open your eyes' and his theory of the world is that more than half of society walk around with their eyes closed, and only want to see their own version of reality. But if you really look, only then can you see the true reality and do something about the injustices in this world.

This statement profoundly affected me and I can still hear him in my head sometimes.

But I don't think it's just the eyes. I work for Action for Children part-time as a mentor - or Independent Volunteer, as they're known - and I remember clearly the open day I attended, as something unusual or probably usual happened.

The room was crowded with well-meaning twenty and thirty somethings about to start their journey to become an Independent Volunteer to a young person in the care system.

The man chairing the initial session spoke about the realities of what your young person could be like, what could have happened to them and how the position - to keep contact with the young person and go for a day out every few weeks - is possibly a life time commitment.

After this introduction, we broke for a coffee break and when we reconvened the room was clear of over half these "well-meaning" people.

But if these people had persisted, they would have got to realize that the experience of being an Independent Volunteer is beneficial not only to the young person but also to yourself - mainly because you understand you can indeed make a difference to someone who has had an unfortunate childhood.

So please, people, open your eyes and ears and go and see "Ill Manors." And remember it's not bleak, it's real, and you can, if you truly want, help change these young people's realities.

So you've heard my opinion. Here's Plan B's:-