New hub offers Stratford’s young people entrepreneurial opportunities
- Credit: Archant
Trevor Blackman is a man with a vision. He has masterminded the redevelopment of a four storey building to provide a space for young people to pursue their dreams.
Ape Media will open the doors of 37 The Broadway to the public next month, when it is set to be filled with young entertainment and business entrepreneurs.
“It is mainly about Newham residents,” said Trevor. “It’s a council building. It was laying here for 10 years not being used.
“One of the things the council wanted was for us to support 16 to 18-year-olds in training.
“Second to that was support for enterprise projects for young people and adults who want to work for themselves.”
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Trevor, chief executive of Ape Media, first got the idea for a space to provide opportunities for young people in 2013 and lobbied the council for a building it could lease.
By 2014, thanks to help from Newham Council, the charity was given the keys to 37 The Broadway – only for a group of squatters to move in for 47 days.
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Trevor was forced to take out to personal loans to pay for the £170,000 worth of damage caused by the squatters.
“Forty-seven days, I’m so sick of that number,” says Trevor. “They ripped out all the wiring, the boiler and stripped the kitchen completely bare.”
Although there is still a lot of work that needs to be completed some businesses, like Hype DGTL, have already started operating out of the building.
Nelson Cabulo, chief executive of Starz Records which runs Hype DGTL, said that having a place to focus on his music helped him move away from a life that could have easily led him down a different path.
“I grew up in Newham and got involved in different things, like gangs and that,” said Nelson.
“Coming to the studio, it was a get away from those negative things. When some of the guys started getting nicked I decided to go back to college to study business and focus on music.”
Now successfully running his own label, Nelson has been inspired by those making a name on Newham’s grime scene.
“I grew up looking up to those guys, I want to be doing more than what they are doing now,” he said.
Another entrepreneur, Jo Dash, of The 6 Music Group, believes people from disadvantaged backgrounds need creative outlets to keep them from straying into trouble.
“What causes issues is you have a breeding ground of young men with a lot of testosterone and nowhere to go,” he said.
“I want to be the statistic that young people, given the right opportunity, can do great things.
“It’s about changing the narrative and them changing it for themselves.
“It’s about the choices people make – if you’re given the options your choices are more varied.”
As well as the recording studio, 37 The Broadway will provide training opportunities, a cafe that can be used for arts and reading and an office for First Stone property solutions, with space for further additions as the centre grows.
Trevor said without the help of Newham Council, Ape Media’s plans for a creative hub would never have got off the ground.
“We want to thank Lyn Brown MP and all the officers at Newham for supporting the vision in so many ways and allowing us to get this far with the building so we can support the community,” said Trevor.
If you want to volunteer to help with renovations or you’re aged 16 or above and interested in working with Hype DGTL email firstname.lastname@example.org.