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Arsenal in the Community host Emirates screening of successful anti-violence film ‘Drawn Out’ as inspirational mentor Shawdon Smith hails working-class youngsters and the Gunners

PUBLISHED: 09:52 24 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:15 24 August 2018

The film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FC

The film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FC

Arsenal Football Club

Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif met a group of inspirational North Londoners at the screening of the hit short movie Drawn Out at the Emirates on Thursday.

The film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FCThe film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FC

Young people from Arsenal in the Community’s Premier League Kicks programme on the Elthorne Estate created the film which highlights the reality of gang violence in London.

The film been has been a runaway success, attracting more than one million views in only a week, through its honest portrayal of street life, gang life and violence.

However, it is also a positive depiction of the raw realities many working class youngsters face – making it more than just a film, as it offers hope, a way out and a message to those caught up or stuck in negative situations they don’t want to be in.

Arsenal in the Community have worked with young people from the Elthorne Estate for 12 years, with most of those involved in the Drawn Out project associated with the club’s community programmes for between five and eight years.

The film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FCThe film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FC

The project is a good example of responding to the needs of young people in North London and working with partners for their benefit.

Shawdon Smith agrees.

A passionate advocate in providing young people with opportunity while encouraging positive peer pressure, Shawdon runs Ambitious Academy, a social enterprise involved in Drawn Out, which provides alternative methods of education for young people as well as offering a mentoring systems.

Speaking to the Islington Gazette after the special screening of the movie at the Royal Oak suite in the Emirates, he said: “Arsenal have been working in our community for a long time now. Different boroughs, different estates.

The film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FCThe film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FC

“The home base for these things is up at Elthorne, which is where we all come from and where we all live.

“We linked up with Jack Ironside from Arsenal in the Community and we pushed through for our short film. We then linked up with a production company called Fully Focussed who helped us with the film.

“We do a lot of grassroots work with young people to keep them encouraged.

“We work in partnership with Arsenal in the Community and we all got together and made it happen and made this dream come true. We’re all so proud.”

The film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FCThe film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FC

Drawn Out is a powerful film influenced and created by 15 talented youngsters from Elthorne and the same number from Fully Focussed in partnership with Arsenal in the Community, which came about after more than 25 workshops over eight months.

The underlining message is not to get into confrontations that can escalate rapidly and have a serious effect and has been critically-acclaimed by many.

The short flick has been hailed for its authentic nature as well as excellent acting, attracting numerous positive comments on You Tube.

Shawdon added: “No matter what type of person you are, whether you’re trying to do good you can still get drawn out. And the film is about identifying how not to get drawn out.

The film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FCThe film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FC

“It’s about identifying how to be yourself and to not let anyone push you in the wrong direction.

“It’s about being your own person. That’s the main message in the film.”

Jack Ironside, Kicks co-ordinator has been a driving force in forging strong links between Arsenal in the Community and youngsters in the Elthorne Estate, a productive relationship which has helped Drawn Out come to fruition.

Jack has been with Arsenal for 12 years, including taking part in the club’s gap year programme after graduating from Football Studies at Solent University.

The film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FCThe film Drawn Out has been screened at the Emirates. CREDIT: Stuart MacFarlane/ARSENAL FC

He has been working hard visiting communities in North London including the Elthorne Estate, all the while helping to build relationships between youngsters and the club.

He said: “I’m really proud of the guys. Funnily enough we connected with the guys through a football programme because football is the least of the things we do.

“95 per cent of the

“What we try and do is get to know the young people over a long period of time. We’ve known some of these guys for more than eight or nine years, that’s a long period of time.

The inspirational Shawdon Smith at Arsenal. CREDIT @laythy29The inspirational Shawdon Smith at Arsenal. CREDIT @laythy29

“We try to find programmes that are going to interest them, that are going to engage them and that are going to have a positive impact on their future.

“We can try and help whatever their interests, whether it be film and TV.

“We try to tap into their hopes so when you’ve got an opportunity to showcase their work they know we’re serious. This whole event has been about them. To help aid their development in our community.”

Jack has seen the confidence of many from Elthorne grow, along with their aspirations. Arsenal’s influence has seen some land jobs to help start realising their potential.

Free football sessions take place four nights per week for young people aged 10 and above but the club’s focus is more on the development of the participants off the pitch.

Throughout the club’s 12 years of engagement with this particular community, on top of more than three decades helping many others in deprived areas of North London, the Gunners have supported young people into employment, provided a wide range of courses and personal development workshops, as well as establishing an Alternative Provision programme with the support of community partners.

Jack added; “There’s street crime, the knife crime, but people don’t talk enough about violence that goes on behind closed doors. Domestic violence. And this film hopefully will start conversations around the situations that arise in our society.

“It means a lot to them. This is their project. This is their film, their estate, their ideas, their voice. They should be proud. I’m proud of them. I can see they’re oozing pride.

“They’re the ones in front of the camera, they’re the ones behind the camera, they’re the ones who have pushed this film. I know the families. I can see how proud the parents are. I can see the pride in everyone’s faces here at Arsenal this afternoon.

“It’s not about me. But I love this job. I started with Arsenal about 11 years ago. I worked with social inclusion and worked up at Elthorne so I know these guys well.

“I think Arsenal as a club have a sense of responsibility to people in our community. We take it seriously. We don’t just drop in and out so show or effect. We don’t do that.

“If you did it would be more damaging in the long term because some of them have been let down by other people. Whether it be their friends, family members, society as a whole, maybe.

“If you’re going to go onto the streets, into estates then you have to respect them and show them that we’re here for the long haul and we’re not going anywhere.”

With thanks to Ambitious Academy, Fully Focused, Arsenal in the Community, Islington Homes and Communities, Islington Giving, Arsenal Foundation and Elthorne Pride.

See the Islington Gazette over the weekend for more on the inspirational Shawdon Smith and Jack Ironside.

Follow Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif on Twitter and Instagram @laythy29 for his in-depth coverage on all aspects of the club.

With thanks to Ambitious Academy, Fully Focused, Arsenal in the Community, Islington Homes and Communities, Islington Giving, Arsenal Foundation, Elthorne Pride and to Arsenal FC and Stuart MacFarlane.

See the Islington Gazette over the weekend for more on the inspirational Shawdon Smith and Jack Ironside.

Follow Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif on Twitter and Instagram @laythy29 for his in-depth coverage on all aspects of the club.

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