Ben Drew aka Plan B
- Finding entrepreneurial and inspirational people to share their skills with disenfranchised young people.
- Nurturing these fledgling organisations with money and professional support in order to provide sustainable and relevant opportunities.
- Building a network of charities, social enterprises and companies that share essential skills and provide opportunities.
- Using the power, respect and passion I have as a way to encourage some of the most marginalised young people to engage.
- Ensuring all of this is done with the guidance, voice and opinions of young people at our core through our Youth Advisory Board and EOTO Media platform.
When the riots happened I started thinking, the kids that are doing this have absolutely no skills, if you’re looting a shop and you’re rioting, I bet you any money you were one of the kids getting kicked out of the class and expelled from school, like I was, which means you haven’t got any grades, so you’re not that bright academically, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do something like cut hair and other skills like plastering or bricklaying. I thought one of the ways we could give kids a choice could be by simply teaching them barbering. If kids knew how to cut hair, there is no shortage of people within their community that need a haircut. So I decided I wanted to set up some sort of course that teaches kids how to barber, but then a friend told me about Andrew Curtis at the Hair Project. Curtis was trained by Vidal Sassoon, after he graduated he was offered any job he wanted, but he turned it all down to set it up a hair academy for under privileged kids. Instinctually I was like; wow this is a really selfless guy, who is just helping people because it’s in his heart.
However, Curtis was struggling, he’d put a lot of time and a lot of money into this amazing salon, but it got to a point where he lost his house because he couldn’t afford to run both things. He ended up living in the salon for a year without the kids knowing. Although he had the initial idea, in terms of business he hadn’t really thought it through, how he was going to sustain it, but all the while he was teaching these kids to an exceptional standard. He was teaching them hairdressing, not basic level hairdressing, but to a standard that they could go on to work for the best type of companies in the world, go on to do fashion shows and have outstanding careers. So rather than set up my own barbering college, I knew I should be supporting this guy. When I started having more meetings with Curtis, he told me about the issues he’d been facing; there were people who’d offered him money, but they they’d wanted him to train more kids, which he didn’t want to do because with larger group sizes he wouldn’t be able to train them to the standard they need to be trained at. So that’s when I got involved with Each One Teach One, I paid his rent for six months and after the TED lecture Hackney College got in contact with him, they were aware that their current course wasn’t working, so now he’s done deal with them where he teaches their kids and they pay his rent.
Starting in East London, we want to offer an alternative education for young people. Once we can prove we can do that we plan on expanding to all areas of London and eventually go national. We would like to see EOTO hubs across the UK, focusing on areas where there is the most need and replicating our model of targeting small community based organisations. We will continue to provide support and guidance for these organisations but also want to see some of the initial projects taking on ambassador roles and providing support to others. We would also like EOTO to be a platform for dialogue and debate about how best to improve the lives of young people through events, seminars and online discussions. We want to create an EOTO movement, strength in numbers, that is how it is going to carry on existing long after I’m gone. That’s the dream for me; it’s all about the individuals.