Trevelyan Middle School pupils within Years 7 and 8 have launched a gripping and pioneering film exploring the topical issue of County Lines drugs operations.
The film follows the story of Elliott, a twelve-year boy, who finds himself coerced and exploited into the world of County Lines. The film starts with the initial grooming process, but goes onto explore the dire consequences County Lines has on both the victim and those around them.
The film was devised entirely by the pupils themselves, who spent months creating fully improvised dialogue that gives the film a truly authentic feel. In addition, pupils have been instrumental in the technical aspects of the film, taking roles in directing; editing; and even composing the film’s haunting soundtrack. They have also become staunch campaigners on the issue, speaking in public and to the media on the dangers of County Lines.
The pupils have collaborated with a wide range of experts to make the film as true to life as possible. They have been lucky enough to enjoy ongoing dialogue with Emily Vaughn, a survivor of County Lines and now best-selling author. The pupils have also been supported heavily by Space, an unfunded organisation who works directly with parents of those affected by County Lines. In particular, Space was able to advise the cast on the psychological impact this form of exploitation has on young people and their families.
The cast have also worked closely alongside the police and other frontline services. The local police safeguarding team made regular visits to rehearsals to ensure key details were as accurate as possible. The project was also visited by the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, who continues to be an active supporter of the project.
The film aims to change the mindsets of both young people and wider communities. It aims to show, contrary to perceptions, that County Lines can affect any type of child and in any area. This is underlined by scenes within the film showing County Lines operations under the direct gaze of Windsor Castle. The film also shows County Lines to be an issue of Modern Slavery, where pupils are left powerless and trapped at the mercy of sophisticated criminal gangs.
The cast have big plans for the film with an ambition for it to be seen by every child and parent in the country. They are continuing to work hard to promote the film and its important message. This work began with a premiere held at The Old Court in Windsor on Monday 20th June, which was attended by a wide range of frontline workers, families and local educators. Since the film was launched online, it has enjoyed the support of local Member of Parliament, Adam Afriyie, among many others.
Brad Day, Assistant Head Teacher and director of the film:
“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 in the film:
“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, Head of Trevelyan Middle School:
“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:
“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.”