When our founder Ben Drew (Plan B) was expelled from school, he was sent to Tunmarsh Pupil Referral Unit in Plaistow. A PRU is primarily attended by students from disadvantaged backgrounds, with additional needs that mainstream schools are often ill equipped to deal with. The aim of the PRU is to provide a nurturing setting to help them get back on track and reintegrate into mainstream school and ultimately society.
While he was at Tunmarsh, Ben was supported by Cliff Early, a music teacher who recognised Ben’s connection with music and the potential impact this could have on a previously disengaged young man. This was to be the foundation from which Ben embarked on his music career. When Cliff died, the music room became a cupboard, and the potential to use it to impact the lives of the young people at Tunmarsh was lost.
In 2012, along with Labrinth and Leona Lewis, Ben returned to Tunmarsh for BBC3’s Project Hackney. They were tasked with guiding a group of young people through a capsulated version of the music industry, from conception to a final performance. All of the young people involved emerged significantly more confident and with a genuine sense of achievement and self-worth.
In partnership with Atlantic Records, The Big Music Project and The Brit Trust we have funded the renovation of the music room at Tunmarsh PRU. Now a state of the art, fully functioning recording studio, students will be able to access real world facilities under the guidance of an experienced musician. The aim is not to encourage them all to cultivate careers in the music industry, but to introduce them to an outlet; a safe place where they can discover how to express themselves, work on relationships with other people and support them in finding the desire and strength to make things better for themselves.
The renovation work recently completed, and we were thrilled to officially launch the music room. The two stage launch was a chance for our sponsors and partners to visit the room and gain first hand insight into the impact it has at Tunmarsh and most importantly on the students. Tinie Tempah, Labrinth, Jess Glynne and our very own Plan B held creative sessions in the music room, enabling the students to really showcase their skills.
We are very much looking forward to working with Tunmarsh going forward, and can’t wait to share the progress with you all!
By Amy Bennett
Communications and Partnership Manager