We Need To Talk: Mark Johnson And Britain’s Excluded Teenagers Request Meeting With MPs

We Need To Talk: Mark Johnson And Britain’s Excluded Teenagers Request Meeting With MPs

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

23 March 2009

By the time I was 29 I estimate my criminal havoc had cost around £1.8m with social services, prison, police, criminal activity and drug intervention. In the end, it took 1 year’s intensive rehabilitation therapy, which by the way was harder than any prison sentence I’d ever done. It cost £20K and changed my life. If you asked me what the solution is, it’s not the £20K and definitely not the £1.8 million, it’s time and money invested on early intervention at school age, and before coming into contact with any criminal justice agency.

Mark Johnson, Founder of User Voice

On 25 March Ten marginalised 14 and 15 year-old pupils from King Charles I Secondary School, Kidderminster, will meet to talk with Tom Watson MP; Lord Patel of Bradford and other MPs and Senior Civil Servants about their experience of the educational system and youth justice services.

These pupils represent the thousands of marginalised and excluded teenagers across the UK. Talks will allow MPs and decision makers to hear first hand accounts of abuse; social exclusion, poverty and police involvement. They will be asked to take responsibility for changing the political mechanisms that are pushing these teenagers, and many others like them, to the margins of society and prison.

The aim of the day is two fold. For the pupils it’ll be an inspirational, empowering day, where they will meet individuals who lead remarkable lives, regardless of having left school with few or no prospects. And secondly, they will be listened to by policy makers with the tools to effect change.

Roundtable host Tom Watson, MP is a former pupil of King Charles, as is Mark Johnson who left the school with no qualifications. The group of Year 10 pupils have been working with Mark on his autobiography ‘Wasted’, exploring its messages and the relevance to their own lives. The pupils are known to the local criminal justice agencies and struggle to take part in the school’s formal curriculum.

We know very well that children exposed to certain predisposing factors are likely to commit crime in later life. We know that childhood poverty, deprivation, neglect, abuse, substance misuse and educational disadvantage are all connected to adult crime. We can tackle all these factors and make a difference if we tackle them early enough – and the younger the better.

Mark Johnson

To speak with Mark Johnson, or receive further information and pictures please contact User Voice on 020 7968 2740 or info@uservoice.org

Editors’ Notes:

Two day schedule for pupils from King Charles I Secondary School, Kidderminster, West Midlands

24 March

Afternoon Ten 14 and 15 year-old marginalised pupils from the King Charles I Secondary School travel from Kidderminster to London by coach

18.30 – 19.30 PHOTO OPPORTUNITY Private tour of Chambers in the Houses of Parliament hosted by Tom Watson MP and Lord Patel of Bradford

25 March

09.30 Photocall (tbc) with pupils, Mark Johnson, Tom Watson MP and Lord Patel of Bradford

10 – 11.00 Roundtable discussion at The Cabinet Office hosted by Tom Watson, MP and Lord Kamlesh Patel

Key People:

Ten 14 and 15 year old marginalised pupils from the King Charles I Secondary School, Kidderminster

Mark Johnson – ex offender and drug addict, author of the bestseller ‘Wasted’. Daily Mirror Pride of Britain and The Prince’s Trust Young Achiever of the Year Awards. Former Special Advisor to the Prince’s Trust and National Probation Service. Former pupil of King Charles I Secondary School.

Tom Watson – MP Minister for Digital Engagement and Civil Service Issues . Former pupil of King Charles I Secondary School.

Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford – Government Whip and Spokesperson for The Cabinet Office, Department for Communities and Local Government and Ministry of Justice. Former social worker. Chair of the Prison Drug Treatment Review Group.