Ten months after the London borough of Hackney suffered some of the worst of last year's rioting, the BBC and a roster of artists that includes the musician Plan B and the actor Adam Deacon have embarked on a month-long jobs training scheme for the area's youth.
The jobs programme – focused on the music, film and fashion sectors – takes place in the weeks leading up to the "biggest concert in the world this year", Hackney Weekend, which will feature Jay Z and Rihanna performing in the shadow of the Olympic stadium.
With the backing of the local authority, the BBC and the arts organisation Bafta have converted the Hackney Picturehouse cinema into the Hackney Academy to offer training to up to 10,000 young people. Most of the artists taking part in the training have a London background, including the former Dragons' Den contestant and food entrepreneur Levi Roots, who will be giving a course in business. Other participants include the actors Riz Ahmed and Ashley Walters, and the east London grime rappers Dizzee Rascal and Lethal B.
The work that the singer Leona Lewis, Plan B and the producer Labrinth are doing to provide Hackney teenagers with training in music production is the subject of a BBC3 documentary that will be shown later this month. Plan B said: "Anything that gives these kids something back and does something positive for them I want to be involved in."
Other young people from the area have been given placements at Radio 1 and more than a dozen have been given journalistic training with the network's Newsbeat team (some other media organisations including The Independent and i are also to take part). The project is also working with the Olympic triple-jumper Phillips Idowu, who is originally from Hackney. "Radio 1 placing themselves in the community is uplifting, it's positive," he said. "Whatever I can do to get involved, inspire, motivate young kids I will do it."
Ben Cooper, the controller of Radio 1, described the programme as "the most ambitious social action project we have ever done". He defended the BBC's decision to train young people for the glamorous entertainment and media sectors rather than in trade skills. "It's about what we know best. It would be wrong for us to try to inspire people to learn trades when we are not the experts. We have contacts in the music and film industries that we can call on and we can use the show business of Radio 1 to actually do some good."
Guy Nicholson, a Hackney councillor, said that the success of the project would come in the form of "a meaningful and lasting experience" for the participants.Reuse content