15 Feb 2022
Kids on the Green is a recently accredited arts centre based in West London which works closely with the local community and supports young people in practically all creative fields and the performing arts. The organisation was founded by Zoe Levack, who also acts as director, coordinator of funding and lead on creative arts. Kids on The Green offers therapy for the community and tuition for music, circus, radio, film, drama, dance, etc. While also hosting a number of events.
We Spoke with Andrew (Company director – Runs the centre day to day and oversees projects) and Adrian (Studio Lead and tech support) to talk about the ins and outs of the ever evolving foundation.
Kids on The Green was organised by Zoe Levack the day after the Grenfell Tower fire back in 2017. The name itself was derived from what was seen there and then – a group of kids being taken to a nearby park where they were sheltered from the horrific views of the burning tower. Something that was intended to be a week-long plan with limited resources of a few footballs and colouring in pencils evolved into a funded indoor scheme by the council for the local children. The centre later evolved into an outdoors programme and eventually the creative arts foundation it is today. The foundation has moved on from a children’s based scheme to working with young people from the age of 13 all the way up to age 24. While the main focus is teenagers, Kids on The Green does offer positions to members of the NEET demographic also. While there is some kind of age restriction, the foundation admits that they to attempt to refrain from age discrimination and will help those in need regardless if they fit the criteria or not. Though Kids on The Green started off being a kids club, the demographic has changed in order to best fit the needs of the community – the demand to support the local teens has proven most needed.
When asked what the principles and aims of the foundation were, Andrew responded “I can’t really tell you what it stands for but everyone that works here is a professional in their field. The staff working the radio station have been working in that area for the past 20 years. Lead singer of Soul ll Soul, Charlotte Kelly, tutors as a vocal coach and councillor and Adrian and I both have a musical backgrounds.”
Andrew explains that through filling staff with trained professionals in many areas of the arts, the foundation is better able to educate students in areas they are interested in to the best of their ability. “We try to give them what we didn’t have when we were their age… to give them access to what they normally wouldn’t have access to and empower them at the same time” says Adrian. When Andrew first brought Adrian into the foundation to do a day long workshop – bringing in his own studio equipment– wound up leaving his equipment to the kids for over a year. This gesture of giving for the kids is but one of many and shows just how much the staff trust and believe in their students and their talents and abilities.
Kids on The Green have been heavily involved in a number of events, such as performing at Coco alongside LowKey in front of a few thousand people for a song that they had written based on what they had been through. KOTG also hosted a stage at the Portobello Summer Festival putting local talent on stage with the likes of Fabio & Groovrider and Artful Dodger. Not to mention they recently commenced a partnership with an organisation called Minds United FC who specialise in aiding people with mental health issues through football. The main focus is the kids and showcasing their talents and aiding them in their career aspirations. The events and schemes range greatly, from being hired for multiple events to host stages at mini festivals to hosting parkour events for the younger kids. The organisation also arranges a number of clubs as well as events and activities. Prior to Covid the centre hosted a girls talk group and recently an Alphabet club for members of the LGBTQ community. KOTG also encourage the building of portfolios and bios.
The organisation already has a couple success stories, such as helping a few young members secure a place at The Brit School. Also, one boy aged 17, secured over 100,000 views on his Spotify through content he worked on at the centre. There have also been situations where local schools have reached out for assistance in teaching students how to use music programmes for their GCSE’s. Adrian and Andrew ended up stepping in and teaching the students over lockdown online. Few of the young people that were taught through that then registered to join the foundation. The organisation offers young people bronze and silver awards which has been accredited by the NCFE. Aiming to provide students to gain certification at GCSE level equivalents.
The two staff members outline that the foundation does have a number of stringent but fair policies to create a safe environment however, have never needed to enforce them and have had no issues whatsoever with the students. “Our approach it a little unorthodox. Because we aren’t teachers by trade, and we don’t come from that background” says Andrew. As the organisation has grown and developed all team members have completed a minimum level 2 and 3 youth work courses to ensure all are meeting the criteria to work with these young people. Both Andrew and Adrian feel that the relationships they form with the users are much more personal as majority of sessions will be worked one-on-one. “I think what Andrew means by unorthodox is that we have no blueprint of how things work for each person. We just get to know the students on that level and deal with them case by case” says Adrian.
The foundation has worked with a number of teens that have been kicked out of school or pupil referral units and have been labelled with having concentration or behavioural issues. But yet again, this is something both Andrew and Adrian state they have hardly seen: “When we come here we lay our cards on the table and say, ‘this is what you guys can expect from us and this is what we expect from you’. And as long as we keep that balance everyone’s going to be happy, and that’s how it’s gone so far” says Adrian. The team find that though the young people they work with have been labelled ‘difficult’ by others, this is something they feel they never experience due to the relationships built between staff and users. On many occasions, the foundation has been approached by parents and teachers of the young attendees, stating that their whole attitude has changed for the better since registering with Kids on The Green.
“Not everyone is designed to sit in a room and be spoke at for an hour and a half. When you come here it’s quite hands on” says Andrew.
Kids on The Green aims to make all schemes and events as interactive as possible. For example, on the 14 June it was the four year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire and the students were extremely hands on. The film group conducted some interviews and wanted to film a series of videos around the 72 victims of the fire. They started with victim number 72 Maria Del Pilar Burton, who was the late wife of Nicholas Burton who survived the fire that was interviewed. The young people were so impacted by his story that they went on to make a song. The students very much took control of the ideas of things they could do to honour the organisation of Kids on The Green, the local community and how it all started.
Kids on The Green hopes to get involved with Notting Hill Carnival for their third year in a row – showcasing young talent on stage at the Tabernacle. They will also be hosting an event in the near future to save a local institution called the Maxilla social club – located very close to the Grenfell Tower – which is on the verge of closing down due to Covid. Few young people have also got involved with Instinctive Behaviour and are in the midst of pitching ideas for a Madi Mai Remix. Kids on The Green have also suffered themselves but are beginning to rebuild again now that we are post lockdown. The overall aim for the year remaining is to push students to meet the best of their abilities in the areas they are passionate about to continue and to build on the foundation they already have. “Kids on The Green in Ladbroke Grove is quite well respected, and the community supports us as much as we do them” says Adrian.
You can keep up to date with events and schemes hosted by Kids on The Green through their social media through their social medias (listed below) and get involved.