06:40PM, Thursday 30 June 2022
Pupils at a middle school have launched a pioneering and gripping film looking into the issue of county lines drugs operations.
The film was devised entirely by pupils in years seven and eight at Trevelyan Middle School. who spent months making fully improvised dialogue, giving the film an ‘authentic feel’.
Following the story of 12-year-old Elliott, who finds himself coerced and exploited in county lines (the movement of illegal drugs from one area to another, often through the exploitation of vulnerable people).
The film begins with the initial process of grooming and goes on to explore the consequences of county lines on the victim and those close to them.
As well as devising the film, pupils have also played a key role in the technical aspects, taking on roles in directing, editing, and composing the soundtrack.
Pupils have also been campaigning on the issue, speaking both in public and to the media about the dangers of county lines.
In ensuring the film was as true to real life as possible, pupils worked with a range of experts including Emily Vaughn, a county lines survivor and now best-selling author, and Space, an unfunded organisation working with the parents of those affected by county lines.
Space advised cast members on the psychological effect this type of exploitation has upon young people and their families.
Cast members have also worked closely with police and other frontline services, with the local police safeguarding team regularly visiting rehearsals to make sure that key details were as accurate as possible.
The film aims to alter the mindsets of young people and those in the wider community and looks to show, contrary to the perceptions that any type of child in any area can be affected by county lines.
This film premiered at The Old Court in Windsor on Monday, June 20. The event was attended by a range of families, local educators, and frontline workers.
Brad Day, assistant headteacher and director of the film, said: "County lines remains much misunderstood as an issue. Too many believe it could never happen to their child or happen in an area such as Windsor.
"The reality is that County Lines operations are run by brutal and highly sophisticated gangs capable of reaching any child and affecting any area. Our film shows just how easy it is for a child to fall victim to this form of modern slavery.”
Freddie Wilson, who plays the lead role, said: "One thing I’ve learnt is just how intense County Lines can be. I never realised it could happen to any type of child from any area or background. I encourage all, both children and parents, to watch this film.”
Louisa Harris, headteacher at Trevelyan Middle School, said: "We are so immensely proud of the talents and hard work of our pupils.
"Not only does the film substantially increase our understanding of this crucial issue, but it also tells an emotionally compelling story that every child and young people will be able to relate to.
"When we showed the film to our pupils, they were on the edge of their seats.
"It has led to many important conversations taking place across the school community.”
Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, said: "I’ve been so impressed not just by the skill and creativity in developing this project, but in the final film itself, which is truly compelling.
"I’m delighted to have been able to support this project in a small way. Having met some of the cast, I know the huge amount of energy and effort that has gone into this.
"It is a project which really can raise awareness of a crucially important issue. I hope this will act as a template for other schools and help make our children safer.
"This is legacy that the pupils and staff of Trevelyan Middle School can be very proud of."
Click below to watch the film:
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