Delroy Ellis (Increase the Peace Youth Services) Interview

Interviewer: Vere Richards

Organisation: Increase the Peace Youth Services

Date: 01/2/12

Interview: 21.16

VERE: Ok, right. Just introduce yourself please.

DELROY: Um, my name is Delroy Ellis and I’m the Project Manager of Increase the Peace.

VERE: Err, this is Delroy Ellis, the time is err, 10 past 4 on Wednesday 11th of January. Right, Delroy tell me about Increase the, the, Increase the Peace Project. How, when did it start?

DELROY: Um, well um, the project stared in itself was in 2008 um, where we were approached by the Crime Reduction Partnership, um, a lady called Pat Dabs who wanted to speak to me about how we can sort of push out positive messages to young people in the community. Um, Pat’s idea was looking at producing some sort of play that we were going to schools and into youth clubs and do some sort of like role play around um, anti social behaviour and knife crime, gun crime and sort of general sort of destruction, destructions that go on in our community. Um, it sounded good Vere, but at first I thought to myself um, ok, sort of out of sight, out of mind. So what I said to her was I’ll go away and think about something we can do. Um, our budget was err, just over £4,000 to do some sort of community event. Um, me and Malaki Patterson who is a producer from Gloucester who err, producers a lot of err, material for us, err, a lot of the young kids in Gloucester who, who are sorted of talented in music and, and vocals. Um, and I said to him like wouldn’t it be nice if we could produce a, some sort of CD that we can give to young people to sort of err, for them to listen to, to sort of hear it from different people’s sort of walks of life, people who become a part of the criminal justice system but got out of it. People who may have gone through problems with losing somebody um, family or friend who maybe a victim of a knife stabbing, somebody who has been a victim or, or, or, had enough …

VERE: Sorry Delroy, look at that.

DELROY: That’s my phone. Yeah, sorry about…Right um, um, yes, so me and Maliki from um, NMP Producing Company got together and we looked at sort of looked at doing a video and then I said to him wouldn’t be better if we could some sort of like CD that sort of um, promotes young people’s talents and also pushes out positive message out there so it could be talking about, young kids talking about stuff to do like knife crime, gun crime, drugs and alcohol misuse or anti social behaviour. So um, yeah me and Malaki thought it was a very good idea to sort of come up with this sort of err, CD but we didn’t know what to call it? Err, so we took it back Pat Dabs and did sort of like err, done a presentation on what we would like to do. She was quite keen for the idea so it was great at, she was sort of embracing this, this album that we were going to produce um, but we didn’t know what to call it? So me and Malaki sat down, we sort of thought about different things we could call it but we wasn’t sure what? Um, and then, I can’t remember actually, who actually came up with the idea, um I think it might have been Malaki that we called the album Increase the Peace. So what we decided to do was sort of do a audition where we would get local artist to come to Chequers youth club and talk about why they think they should be on the album and if they were what sort of lyrics would they be sort of covering, you know what I mean, and how, how would they seem to be pushing that positive message through Urban music rather than all this sort of negative stuff about banging guns, selling drugs, err, talking about women in a sexy way and not having no respect for them as some of these rap artist do. So yeah we had, we had the auditions, over, I think it was over 30 people who come along to the auditions for the album. Um, Malaki was the sort of guy, so we said Malaki because or your relationship with music and how passionate you are. We sort of said to him, well look, we rather you focused on the music side of things and get the album written up. Err, look at getting the, the album err, sort of mastered and look at who was going to go on the album, so that’s was sort of Malaki’s role there and my sort of role was to pub, err, promote the album err, through like different sponsors and pushing out what the album about to local agencies and err, committee groups and stuff. Um, that was successful the, the launch of the album, when we launched the album in 2000 and um, 2008, yes 2008 when we launched the album. Um, were we sponsored by the local um, record shop HMV, so we had our album going at HMV. I think if I remember rightly we had over a 100, and about 145 albums got sold through HMV. I think at first they we were happy to just have 50 and just to see how they went and they sold pretty quick so then we had somebody from um, HMV phone head office, ringing us, saying they would like another batch, so that was really good. Um, and it wasn’t so much to make money Vere, it was sort of to try and make money, sorry, it wasn’t to make, it wasn’t to make money to sort subsidise the album, it was really to make money to continue the work that we wanted to do with Increase the Peace because when we sat down and we said that we would produce volume 1 album and that we were looking at err, the following year to, to launch volume 2 album. Um, and like I said the very first album was a big success um, and I think from sort of that we sort thought to our self ok the launch party that we had at Chequers for the album was a real success, we had over 6, no not 6, over 400 people between sort of young and older people come along to the evening event. Err, we had the Major there, we had the head of chief of police err, and we had other community leaders and sort of, err, err, partnerships who came along and yeah that was a very, that was a very good success. And also, we also had um, a famous rugby payer um, by the name of Marcel Garvey; sorry I nearly forgot then. He came along and presented the certificate to the young people who were involved in the album, so that was vey nice of him. Um and yeah, that, that sort of the launch of the album was a real success um, and I think I’ve said to you before Veer that it was initially supposed to be an album that we were going to secure and hopefully bring out a volume 2. Err, but then when I sort of like, come off that sort of like, that cloud because it was a very successful album and you know, we had some real good feedback from people saying how, how successful it was and that. People were listening to the music and were listening to these artists and telling kids not to sell drugs, not to sell, err, shoot guns, or, or, or stab people or, or get involved in alcohol and drugs misuse and stuff so that, that, that, was the sort, sort of the criteria of the album, that was what we were aiming to do. So that was, that was a success in itself. Um, and then yeah I just sort of one day I just sat at home and I thought um, Increase the Peace and I just sort of looked at the bigger picture and I thought to myself, yeah, I think, I think this could be a success if we sort of looked at different ways that we could offer Increase the Peace as a service, not so much as a business but a service to the community and I think where the album was successful and everybody wanted to be associated with it because they looked at people like J-Jaws, Ashfield, there was Danger um, NMP, um, um, Remix, all the artists that were on the initial album, people sort of looked at them as role models. So we had quite a few young people saying how I can get involved with Increase the Peace and stuff so that was good. That was enabling us to engage with kids who we weren’t usually be able to engage with because they were sort of, in their own sort of bubble in a sense, so that was good. Um, and yeah, we sort of sat down me and some of the staff members and thought right, where can we take Increase the Peace and if we do take it somewhere where can it take us long term so. My sort of overview was always to set it up as a charity, but as you know Vere, to set up a charity isn’t just saying I’m a charity. There’s a lot of legal documents um, you know what I mean. Um, what you have to do as a charity to be registered, you have to, you know what I mean. They want to know about your policies and procedures, what your criteria is, what your outcome is so that sort of for me was always a bit scary because I’ve never sort of looked at Increase the Peace as a charity so um, again, I sort of put it on hold for a bit, but as I was putting it on hold people were saying oh Del. Um, somebody rang me up and said I want to perform and this event, I’ll give them your number. So from that, it was a bit like a snow ball that we were getting different people from like the police, from Gloucester City Homes, different agencies ringing me and saying oh Del we seen your guys perform at this event at Chequers, could they come and perform at one of our youth shows or community events or stuff like that. So from that, it was just as I said the snowball effect where people actually ringing me up saying oh, we want some of your artist to perform at this event how much do you charge? And it was a bit like oh; we don’t, were just a group of young people who sort of just trying to push a positive message out there. So as things went, went along I stared to think to myself ok, people want this in their community, they like what the bands about and the initiative, but how can we sustain the welling of it so I thought I’ll looked to myself ok people want this in their community but what, what the brands about and the new initiative but how can we sustain the welling being of it. So I sort of looked to myself and thought ok we need to sort of get registered as a charity, we need to start looking at, you know what I mean, ways that we can raise money and also get government funding money from different resources due to the um, not so much the economic times then because it was not as bad as it is now, um, so yeah I would probably say from 2008 up until sort of 2010 we were just performing at different events err, we were also asked in 2009, sorry 2010 to um, um, to the um, Stephen Lawrence enquiry they had um, they had something at the um, Quedgeley head office, the, the head, sort of the head office for the police in Quedgeley at the um, I forgot the place what it’s called now, not the Water Wells, um, excuse I can’t remember the place but we were asked by the police, by the chief of police if we would come and do a performance and they paid us £400 for half an hour towards our charity. So that was very nice in that was a nice sort err, thank you really to say look Del your young people are involved in this project if we can sort of pay for you to come along and perform, um, it was I think, it was the Stephen Lawrence enquiry, um, submission, update, something to do with the update of what, what was going on with the sort of racism, their sort um, racism in the police and stuff. Um, I know people were able to ask questions about what they put in place now ever since the Stephen, yeah, I think it was the 10 years, no it couldn’t be 10 years because he’s been in, no, cant remember exactly but it was a sort of transition of they want to know what the police have done to support the community and…

VEER: Was it something to do with the Macpherson report?

DELROY: Could have been, yeah, I wasn’t to sure as I said it was nearly 2 years ago. But just being asked to go there and take a group of young kids to, to sort of stand in front of the top police officers from, I think there was 2 from the Metropolitan from London, there was a couple of chief constables and some sort of high wigs as we want to call them. And we were there and it was, it was great and the kids really enjoyed it, talking with the police, and again it was just sort of building that relationship because some of the young kids that I work with Veer, have always had sort of a negative attitude towards the police. So when their seeing wow, I mean you’re here trying to promote what were doing, but also you’ve given us the opportunity to perform in front of you and show that were not all little thugs and gang bangers, that we all have got sort of hopes and dreams in a sense so that was nice. Um, so ill probably say that was ours biggest performance up to then, up to err, 2010. And then err, that was the start of 2010 and then err, middle of 2010 we were asked to go to Hungry to a place called Budapest, err, Clash Cermet festival that runs every 2 years um, and we were asked to go to represent the South West of England um, and I think there was over 27 countries that um, um, that come to this festival um, and it was just really nice to be asked to come and represent the South West. And I took err, 14 young people from Increase the Peace err, from dancers to MC’s to vocal singers so that was probably the err, the biggest highlight of my sort of Increase the Peace sort of time, is, is sort of being asked to go to this, this festival to represent the South West. Um, and from that err, last year a group of young kids came back from, sorry, it was a youth exchange project sorry so the, the initial ah, agreement was we go out there and represent the South West of England and then the following year they came here and err, we host them and sort of introduced them to our culture and stuff like that and that was very successful. And from that I’ve had a letter from their President of Hungry err, to invite us back in 2012 so that’s, that’s really again, and that’s why hopefully I’m going to be taking a group of kids out there in July. Bare with me when I just stop, I think that was one of my staff, just because our buzzer has been…

VEER: Ok, Delroy tell me, tell me about the, the documentary?

DELROY: Yeah, um, we were approached by ITV West um, they were doing a sort of err, err, a show, well, an ITV show about young Black people, well, sorry not young Black people, young youth of today and about how there sort of portrayed in, in the media being sort of like thugs and getting involved in anti social behaviour and drugs and what have you. So I was approached by someone um, from ITV and they asked if they, if I would be happy for them to come down and talk to some of our young kids about what we do at Star 66 and stuff like that. So um, we’ve done 3 documentaries now on TV that’s been shown so that’s, well, not documentaries, short sort of like err, snippets on like. We’ve done 2 with I, I, ITV West news and we’ve done 1 with BBC news night and that was about the WPP when the riots well, call them riots the disturbances of Gloucester. I know, I hate the word when people say riots because it was just disturbances. Um, was in Gloucester we were asked to also do something about the WPP because we launched the new youth club sort of, excuse me, and 3 days after the riots we, we launched the, well yeah, yeah, the, the WPP so in a way it was a bit like strike while the irons hot Veer so that, so that was good on our behalf. But again I would have been more than happy for it to not happen because um, I later found out that um, I think it was it 7 or 8 kids that somebody identified that were involved in the riots who used to attend Star 66. So for me that goes to show if, I am not saying if Star 66 was still around Veer but I would have liked to think that if that was going to happen that night, then I could of be able to, not defuse the situation but try to sort of intervene and say well look guys what’s your problem then, come to Star lets have, lets have a group talk and lets discuss what your concerns are, what, why are you getting involved in. I don’t know, I can’t say it would have worked but as a youth worker you try, you know what I mean, that’s all you can do, there’s no point saying ah, it would have worked. I, I look at youth work as providing a service but also about prevention, trying to get the young people to stir away form getting involved in outside, err, outside on the street crime and anti social behaviour and stuff. Um, so yeah, yeah, we had a few err; TV shows on TV err, sort of promoting what were doing in Gloucester. Um, and just going back to what we were saying Veer, we, when we set up Increase the Peace, it wasn’t supposed to be anything. So where it is now in Gloucester and we’ve got links now at Bristol, we performed at Cabot Circus, we’ve performed at Birmingham Carnival, err, we’ve performed in Redding err, we’ve performed with Richard Blackwood who was err, on a, can’t remember what TV programme he was in Richard Blackwood but now he’s a, he’s a, a Northern Soul DJ and he also been in Big Brother. He, he also DJ at a club in Redding and we were asked to be his um, support act. So we performed in Redding, well not myself, but the guys who were involved in Increase the Peace and it just builds on their confidence that I’ve seen so money kids grow who have been involved in Increase the Peace through music and having stage presence and now they’ve gone on to be quite successful like musicians. You know, some of them have gone onto college to do performing arts and some of them have gone on to do music technology at college, some of them have gone on to do sound engineering and again that’s what we want, we just want to see positive kids who we know can do good, go onto do positive things in the future. And I just think the more and more that we are provide, pulling these services away, its just worries me that I may not be able to say one day to a young person the only thing that you can do is become a drug dealer because I’m not able to give the support that I would like to the massive amount of kids that I work with because we haven’t got a massive service anymore. Whereas before we had what over 13 youth clubs and now we have um, just over 3 youth clubs in the Gloucestershire area so it just goes to show what sort of catchment area we would need to cover for young people when really we haven’t, we haven’t got one the facilities and 2 we haven’t got the manpower because there are no youth workers really under the youth service anymore. The majority of frontline youth workers have been made redundant or they’ve been moved over to the new sort of um, the new sort of um, structure under the County Council. That doesn’t allow them to do outreach work or touch work or street base work. So how are we supposed to engage with these youths if we haven’t got the, the man power and also the facilities to offer them the service. Um, as I said again, if it wasn’t for the Home Office and the funding that I’ve got this new initiative wouldn’t have been, been set up. I’ve had no support from the County Council and so it’s just worrying Veer, I just, as much as I’m, as much as I keep saying about how worried I am, I am really actually worried in that 6 months time and 6 months are just around the corner, I may have to pull, pull the plug on this new project and, and that’s a worrying thing for me as a, as a youth worker and also my staff. Do you know what I mean; I’ve got 4 paid staff and um, 5 compassionate, err, compassionate volunteers who, who, who were here doing their, their training, their youth worker degrees or, or diplomas um and that would just upset me to say you’re know longer have anywhere to work or you’re know longer employed and, and that’s the big worry for me but I’m trying to stay positive and I’m trying to stay positive.

VEER: Alright Delroy just give me a, um, a run um, of who’s in the project. Just give me a role call of names, kind of Danger, Villain…

DELROY: Um, well we’ve had, we’ve had from artist we had people like Dashfield’s, we’ve had J-Jaws, we’ve had KDK and TY, we’ve had Mr Merge, we’ve had BT um, we’ve had um, Dread MC um, yeah, we have a lot of, we had a lot of high profile musicians and artists who are from Gloucester who, who were the initial sort of Increase the Peace err, music err, forum for the, for the, much of the first album and again just going back to what I said Veer, when we launched volume 1, we wanted to launch volume 2 the year after, were 2 and a half years behind that now due to funding. Um, we want, we want to produce a new album, there’s a lot of new artist now in Gloucester I’m sure you, you’re aware of that being a radio presenter and stuff that there’s, there’s so much talent in Gloucester and I think we really need to sort of like, sort of focus on what we’ve got and try and make, give them a platform to, to move forward instead of them thinking well I’ve tried the music industry, it doesn’t work for me so I’m going to become a gang banger. Do you know what I mean. And that, and that is the nutshell of it, there’s kids who say to me, if I don’t make it in the music Del, I’m going to start selling drugs because that’s the only other way that I can make money, do you know what I mean because they see their talent as music and, and that is a talent, do you know what I mean, you either got it or you haven’t. And it upsets me to know that when kids are saying to you Del, if I don’t make it as an artist, I’m going to become a drug dealer, do you know what I mean. And, and that’s due again to, to finances, do you know what I mean. Studio time costs money err, producing an album costs money err, promoting the album costs money. I want to do that all under Increase the Peace. I want to be able to promote, promote these artist out their as artist and give them a platform where they can feel safe and think do you know what, this is where I belong, this is where I’m going to continue to go. Instead of them hitting that brick wall, falling back and thinking, I can’t be bothered now; I’ll just be like the rest of my sort of age group of young kids. I’m not putting them all, I’m not painting them all the same brush Veer, but you’re aware that we have got a, a huge amount of young, young kids who, who, who are part of the criminal justice system and who are failing. You know what I mean, I think it’s only going to get worst if money doesn’t get put back into the system and that’s what we need to start thinking about is um, the next generation of young people.

VEER: Thank you sir.

DELROY: You’re welcome.

VEER: I think you’ve said it all. Let me just check I’ve got it all there.

END

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