This time it was Fitzrovia’s turn to host the quarterly Work.Life charity fundraiser, supporting the incredible organisation Key4Life, through a night of laughs, raffles and more laughs.
Key4Life is a charity who deliver effective rehabilitation programmes for young men in or at risk of going to prison. They’re based in London and the South West and have a plethora of programmes under their belt that they use to help these young men in challenging situations. From equestrian and music therapy, to eye-contact and handshake workshops, all of their mentoring is geared towards reducing youth offending, re-offending and gang warfare.
It was set up by Eva Hamilton, who has dedicated over 30 years of her life setting up charities, working with some of the most disaffected people in Britain, with a well-deserved M.B.E sitting in her trophy cabinet.
Eva invited along two young men, Sasha and Noah, who have been working with Key4Life to come and tell us their story. She told us how many of the young men they work with are in very similar situations; a large proportion of them are the first born son with no father present and an inevitable weight on their shoulders, yearning to earn money to support their family by any means possible, often involving drugs, violence and gangs.
No different to this was Sasha. He got in the wrong crowd and ended up in prison where he first met Key4Life and turned his life around. Key4Life were there to meet him the day he got out, getting him suited and booted and ready to face the world of interviews that they’d helped to organise. Finally after 25+ interviews, Sasha was offered a job which he was due to start on Monday (our comedy night on the Wednesday), instead, because his probation officer had incorrectly filled out a form, he was sent back to prison instead of to his new office. Key4Life stepped in straight away getting him out that same day – explaining the probation officer’s mistake – showing what they’re up against every day.
Next up, Noah stood and explained to the crowd how he’d moved over from Saudi Arabia as a child with his family. Living in a council estate in London he was very aware of gang-culture but always steered clear. He worked hard, going on to study chemical engineering at university, followed by a masters. This is where it all went wrong for Noah, one night him and his friends got into a fight and the person they were fighting got stabbed (Noah didn’t even know his friend had a knife on him) and subsequently because he was involved he was charged for GBH (grievous bodily harm). With a masters and a court case battle to get through he thought his life was over and that he’d never be able to get a job with GBH on his record, but this is where Key4Life came in. They helped him to get a job in the city and he’s now a very happy insurance broker “a dream job for me”.
If you’re sat reading this thinking “get me involved”, well you’re in luck as there are many ways you (and your business) can. By mentoring, providing employment or donating, read more about all the ways you can engage here. We could go on for hours and hours about the incredible work Key4Life are doing, but instead we’ll finish off with some impressive stats that speak for themselves: young offenders are 4x more likely to be in employment and 4x less likely to re-offend if they have been through the Key4Life programme. And, if that wasn’t enough, 81% of participants have completed Work Tasters, with 79% in education, employment or training at the end of the programme.
What better way to make some pennies for this awesome charity than hosting our first ever stand-up comedy night? With sore cheeks and belly laughs aplenty, it was a huge success raising over £2,000 for Key4Life! We couldn’t have done it without our generous volunteers, acts, raffle-donators and of course the Fitzrovia Charity Committee for making it all happen.
Our fabulous evening was hosted by Madeline Campion, a regular at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, who got the audience going from the very beginning, picking on a certain few people in the crowd (sorry Lynn). One by one she introduced our amazing stand-ups who we want to give a huge shout out to for taking time out of their busy schedules to come and perform for us: Preet Singh, Dave Gardner, The Monks (and their guitar) and our headline act of the evening Paul F Taylor.
We’d also like to thank all the kind donations that Fitzrovia members and the local businesses made. There was a truly eclectic mix, from a meal for 4 at Pizza Pilgrims, a spa weekend, a hand-painted picture, a 3 tiered chocolate cake and of course the obligatory bubbles (plus many more!).
The final thanks of course has to go to all that attended and donated their hard-earned monies to support this incredible charity. Thanks for coming along, emptying your pockets, and laughing with us for an unforgettable evening! Have a charity in mind that we could support? Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.