Steven Biggs manages a wonderful community centre in the heart of one of London’s most diverse yet deprived areas – a colourful centre which genuinely brings everyone together and provides hope, opportunities, fun and laughs for all. Yet when their funding disappears under the government’s cuts, Steven are faced with some drastic choices about how to keep the centre – and the community – alive.
Steven Biggs is the well-loved, jolly and upbeat manager of a London community centre – the heart of the local community, a community considered one of the most deprived and disadvantaged areas in the UK. The centre is a real melting pot – different ages, religious groups, ethnicities, cultures all share the same space and enjoy each other’s company, with a range of groups and activities for all;
- The old pensioners’ lunches and IT clubs – where old Mrs Granger learns how to Skype with her great grandaughter halfway round the world, and octaganerians offer their words of wisdom in 140 characters or less on Twitter.
- Cookery classes – where certain students are determined to spice up the lessons in more ways than one
- Sports groups for the local youth – where boys such as Derron and Billy, from different local gangs, shoot for the goal rather than each other
- A driving school for ex-offenders, helping ex-offenders like Carl, John and Shantelle stay on the straight and narrow road to success.Dancing classes where the rather camp Simon distracts the local girls and boys away from sex and drugs with salsa and disco – and a healthy dose of sex ed and lessons about homophobia!
- Welfare and benefits advice sessions, where advisors Maria and Tom find themselves increasingly swamped by more and more struggling, stressed, confused and angry local residents – such as wheelchair-bound Julia who is having her disability benefits re-assessed for the third time
- And English classes, where people from a range of countries learn how to say a range of statements from ‘My name is Sylvie and I am from Romania. I am not a benefit scrounger’ to ‘Tea with two sugars please.’
However, when the government cuts their funding, Steve and his centre are faced with closure, his staff with redundancy and the community with nowhere to go. Steve and the team attempt to do fundraising events, raffles, auctions – but there’s only so many fairy cakes that can be baked and bought, with everyone facing the pinch, there’s only so much someone is willing to bid for a Chelsea shirt, no matter WHO it’s signed by.
Steve is faced with a tough choice – and comes up with a rather drastic solution involving his ex-con driving students, which may risk everything for him, the students, his team and the centre. But with nothing to lose, there only seems one way to go…and his guilty conscience is eased by what he sees as the ‘ethics’ of the crime they are about to commit – targeting those seen as responsible for the centre’s closure – the government, the banks and the wealthy tax dodgers!
Based on a range of true stories, and a mix of social realism, comedy and crime caper, with an underlying – and very relevant – message, this is a film in a similar vein as The Full Monty, Brassed Off and Billy Elliott, but not necessarily with a sugar-coated finale!
Audiences will love it, and its bound to be a ‘commercial success’ – even so, David Cameron may not be such a big fan…
Writer Michael Chandler has worked in and managed a range of local, national and international charities and charitable projects for over 10 years. These have included some innovative and award-winning projects and centres supporting working with the street homeless, disadvantaged children and young people, ex-offenders and communities in some of the most diverse yet deprived parts of the UK. He has seen the aspirations, potential and hopes of many people that find themselves in hard times, some of the extraordinary, touching – and sometimes farcical – situations that people can be faced with when their backs are up against the wall. And he knows first-hand the increasingly difficult situations that individuals, families, communities and charities are facing in these times. Some of these stories have been used to inform the script here, bringing the people, the situations and the underlying issues we face today to life.