June 2020 saw the first virtual Inspire You Care Team meeting as Mas Lab collaborators renewed their commitment to the Care Leaver Covenant. Plans are afoot to introduce and develop a range of support services specifically focused on those in and exiting the West Midlands Care System.
Mas Lab’s Kev Gammond says; "The Mas Lab ethos of DONT EVER GIVE UP prevails and I am looking forward to seeing the first INSPIRE YOU CARE CENTRE widening it’s doors for the care community in Wolverhampton from September- providing an open and safe educational space where the Arts is a tool for liberation can make lives easier with access to training that allows our youth to begin their transition."
Inspire You founder Leslie Fairclough is not a stranger to tragedy, fortunately he also knows what it takes to come back from the edge of despair and become a champion against all odds.
As an elite athlete in the world of martial arts, he along with Mervyn Etienne, himself a multiple world championship have used their elite knowledge and lived experience to help youngsters overcome the disadvantages in this world of unlevel playing fields, by providing motivational and educational workshops at the Inspire Centre (I.C) in Wolverhampton.
"This partnership project is an essential service today; the number of children in Youth Custody, Pupil Referral Units (PRU’s) and entering the care system is higher than ever before, it’s a ticking time bomb. In these troubled times there are only two camps, you are either part of the solution, or part of the problem.
At the Inspire Centre, children in, or leaving care are not marginalised they can learn, be inspired and focus their attention in a safe space alongside mainstream young people, whilst, getting the support they need to achieve their dreams. Maya Angelou’s statement, 'Still I Rise' is a great slogan, for 2020", says Leslie.
"The only way to overcome this universal tribulation is truth and collaboration; it’s time to get on board, come and join us."
Train the trainer classes from Kidderminster College's technical wizards Jack and Anton will ensure youngsters passing through the Inspire Centre will be certificated ready for further education.
Hannah Escott is a girl who went from cycling to and from school to become a cycling champion racing for her country. Now she is a woman leading Open Trail, a successful charity dedicated to helping youngsters to realize their true potential, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Mas Lab feel privileged to have yet another World Champion on the Inspire You Care Centre Team.
Champions of any sort will tell us that self- belief, tenacity, perseverance, passion and a real sense of purpose are just a few of the qualities needed to achieve the ultimate success; and the Inspire You team; boasting several great champions in its fold already have a successful track record in using the skills and methodologies learnt whilst travelling he way to multiple awards in the martial arts field to lead youngsters under their supervision to achieve remarkable results in numerous fields of activity.
"Absolute Services provide bespoke services to help fit square pegs into square holes;" says founder Wayne Lawrence, "and my team offer a range of skills and training to help individuals prepare themselves to be READY FOR WORK! The programme varies to match the needs of the candidate and through our not-for-profit arm we are excited about working with Mas-Lab and Open Trail under the Inspire You umbrella."
Entelechy Network Solutions founder and Mas Lab partnership guy, Dave Shuck says, "After the Migrant X event at Kidderminster College last year the team
promised that whatever went into the Mas Lab shop window had to be available in the shop and since then we have been busily engaged in keeping that promise by helping individuals and organizations committed to supporting those in care by joining up the dots. It’s good to see James Ralph, Head of CSHB at Kidderminster College, has joined the team so that the college can share best practice training information with us."
This year saw Kidderminster College celebrate a milestone event, it's 140th anniversary. Through pictures, documents, performances, interactive displays and immersive presentations, the evening showcased the many diverse courses that Kidderminster College offers and the support the institution has provided throughout the years to the local community and younger generations.
With key speakers including Chris Payne from NCG, ex-student and MAS patron Robert Plant and our Guest of Honour, MAS Lab’s Kevyn Gammond.
Due to its scale and the huge challenge to pull it off, the event required some serious cross college collaboration. The MAS Lab, The LRC and our very own Marketing Team banded together to create an event that we will all still be talking about in years to come.
The hard work and commitment of members of the MAS Lab team was recognised in the Kidderminster College Staff Awards this month, especially that of Hetty and Mari Randle (MAS Lab Caregivers).
In the coming months Hetty and Mari, through the MAS Lab Social Train, will be working with LGBTQ minority groups who need spaces to work and engagement with their creative work reflected in Kidderminster College, at the Inspire You centre that will be opening in Wolverhampton in September, and hopefully in other Inspire You centres that will subsequently be opening across the nation.
At the time that the nation went into Covid-19 lockdown the MAS Lab team were preparing for an upcoming climate change event in April called ‘Grey Cell Green’ at Hopley’s Farm in Bewdley, just up the road from the MAS Lab office. The event was named after a song that Jonn Penney and his band Ned’s Atomic Dustbin wrote 30 years ago. The song was an MTV hit in the US and remains a fan favourite to this day so it’s popularity, coupled with it’s message that the responsibility is with each and every individual to protect our environment and ensure that humans and all other species can continue to live on our planet, made the song an apt inspiration for Jonn to curate an event around.
Students from creative industries courses at Kidderminster College worked on creative projects themed around Grey Cell Green and these projects including visual arts, original songs and contemporary dance were to be showcased at the event. Jonn, working closely with Hetty and Mari Randle, were reaching out to local and national climate change inspired organisations to bring their presence into the event and to offer lifestyle suggestions that can help to equip us for an eco-friendly existence.
Jonn says, “I became vegetarian over 30 years ago because I had misgivings about the way that farming, over-fishing and industry were messing with the ecosystem. I'm no prophet but unfortunately those misgivings are vindicated now more than ever and it's time for us to act. Hetty, Mari and I will be looking in the coming months for a way to bring the spirit and creative elements of our Grey Cell Green project to fruition in a different format. We’ll be endeavouring to turn your grey cells toward green issues through the power of creative expression with a mantra that ‘EXPRESSION = CHANGE.’”