The Agency

Make your idea a reality

As part of Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture, a Mayor of London initiative, The Agency at Kiln Theatre supports young entrepreneurs between 15-25 years old develop ideas for social change in their area. We give them the professional training, support and advice they need to make their project and benefit their local community. This could be anything from boxing workshops to a music festival. They will pitch their idea to an expert panel to win £2000 of funding to make their idea happen.

The Agency runs nationwide and takes place in London, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast.

We will continue to support our Agents, 23 young people from across Brent taking part in The Agency, a London Borough of Culture project hosted at Kiln Theatre during 2020. The initiative supports young people to develop their own projects that will create meaningful change in their communities. Although we have had to postpone the Agents’ project presentations to a panel until autumn 2020, our Agency Project Coordinator Gemma will sustain a regular level of contact with them over the next few months, ensuring they have structured opportunities to connect with each other. In collaboration with Brent Borough of Culture 2020, we will put together a commissioned opportunity for the Agents to respond creatively to the Coronavirus situation.

Blog

Mohit - 7 July 2020

I grew up playing football in the streets of Lisbon, Portugal since I came out of the womb. My dad just stuck a football at my feet and since then I knew that was what I wanted to do. Waking up early as a kid and knowing your friends are outside waiting for you to bring out the ball,  playing football before school and after school. Every opportunity I got to play, I took it.

When I was 10 I had my first deal with a professional Portuguese academy through the help of a supportive coach in primary school, but my parents thought it was expensive and a waste of time so they told me not to join. It was upsetting and frustrating feeling that your parents didn’t want you to achieve your dreams but deep down I knew it would be one opportunity of many.

Shortly the year after, my parents had a hard time with employment so they decided to move to England. At first, I was excited because all my favourite footballers played for English clubs but then I realised I would have a hard time communicating with others because I couldn’t speak the language. Because of this, I had difficulty making friends in London but then my P.E teacher recommended I  join a club nearby called St. Lawrence FC and from there I just fit in and found out that football is very different in the U.K. compared to Portugal.

At 16 I was at Crystal Palace Development Team. This was where the players with less ability would go to get trained harder, and in this team many players were older and much stronger than me. I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for that season so I would get barged off the ball, lose balance when on the ball and would lose focus during games. This was the point where I thought I should quit and focus on my studies instead so I started to miss training sessions and matches. Days became weeks, and weeks become months, all because I thought I wasn’t good enough for the team so I started to question why I was even there. But then one day, one of the under 16s coaches came to my house on a random day and spoke to me. We sat down for three hours thinking of ways of how I could improve my fitness levels, how training sessions could improve me mentally and physically, thought of tactical sessions to focus so that I could get back to training with the squad. That day he left my house at 7 pm with a quote which I still stick by, ‘ Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’ and that was where my Crystal Palace journey started. I had one year to see if I could make it to the first team in Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, I didn’t but a year later, at 17  I got a scholarship at Brunel University. So I now play for PFA Academy Under 19s and the professional club AFC Hayes Men’s First Team.

Throughout all these years, I have formed strong relationships with people in the football industry. Many great coaches, players and great agents. Football has had a huge impact on my life and I believe it can do the same for others.

Berlyn - 12 June 2020

Life without school has been confusing to say the least. A lot of school students, especially in year 12 and year 10, have been left confused because we have no idea how the lockdown will affect our grades or education within the next couple of years. Online school is nowhere near as good or effective as school in a classroom and means that a lot of us are falling behind. I personally would like to go back to school but also am cautious because corona virus is still a huge issue. Without school to occupy me and others my age, there’s this feeling of uselessness because we haven’t got anything productive to do even if we do complete all our online work. Without having school to distract me it means I’m on my phone far more often, for up to 11 hours a day, social media has become far more addictive without school and grades to worry about. Whilst I do try to be productive and do things such as read to take me off of my phone, it only reduces the damage caused by phones by a small amount. In my opinion, online school is just as bad as doing nothing because for most people my age there is no real incentive to do the work and barely any guidance for any confusion on any of the work. Honestly, the sooner we get back to normal the better. A lot of pressure is being put on young people to behave like university students, which in some ways can be useful but is also very stressful and difficult for young people, especially when you live in a noisy or distracting household. I feel like not going to school and the pandemic as a whole feels kind of unrealistic because no one expected that anything like this could happen. Right now I would say that my biggest concern about school at the moment is how it is going to affect my exams next year and my university applications, hopefully they will not be negatively effected too much and things will go back to normal as soon as possible.

Agent - 14 May 2020

Having lived in the London borough of Brent for some time now, feelings of isolation were a frequent feature in my daily life. Most days would be filled with trying to make connections, finding local groups to socialise with – above all else, establish roots where I had chosen to live.

In the age of social media, you’d think it was easy to find like-minded people who shared similar interests, but that didn’t prove to be the case. In fact, I found quite regularly that people were more concerned about curating their online lives and identities as opposed to establishing real, genuine connections with real, genuine people.

Suffering from a chronic condition didn’t help, either: whenever I had the opportunity to make friends, issues of anxiety and the long term consequences of isolation would take their toll. At points, I felt as if I had nowhere to go.

But then, I discovered The Agency – a group of inclusive people who created a hub enabling social interaction and connection. Tied together by an inspiring mission statement, the object of attending The Agency and various Kiln-related activities may well have been project-focused, but I have gained so much more from this experience; friends, support networks and chiefly, love.

Even during this pandemic, I’ve received nothing but a welcoming response in the wake of what are extremely challenging times – all Gemma, Lydia, Marco and Will have remained positive, encouraging and warm for what are, I’m sure, hard times for them too. And with such an affable, energised group of people, including the amazing cohort at The Kiln, I have no doubt great things are still to come!

The Agency at Kiln Theatre is part of Brent’s London Borough of Culture in 2020

Brent is London’s Borough of Culture in 2020. Our programme explores the stories, art and emotions that hold life in Brent together, uncovering and celebrating the borough’s untold tales and unheard voices. We are the home of Zadie Smith, reggae, English football and its captains. We have London’s oldest road, the biggest Hindu Temple in Europe, the Kiln Theatre and Mahogany Carnival Design. We are where city becomes Metroland; where roads, waterways and railways cross; where outsiders fight for their place. We are Jayaben Desai, George Michael, Cyrille Regis, Keith Moon, Rachel Yankey, Janet Kay, Twiggy, Bob Marley, Michael Meaney and Trojan Records. It is from this alchemy that our year of culture comes. Brent is more than a borough of culture: This is the Borough of Cultures.

We live in a country that isn’t sure where it’s going. But Brent has never been a place that follows trends: it sets them. As Europe’s eyes turn to Wembley next year for the finals of the UEFA European Football Championships we will show them a place that is new, genuine and hopeful.

The Agency at Kiln Theatre is part of Brent’s London Borough of Culture in 2020. The Agency UK is a Battersea Arts Centre and Contact programme devised in partnership with People’s Palace Projects. Current partners include: Kiln Theatre, Blackhorse Workshop, National Theatre Wales and Fablab Belfast. Funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund and London Borough of Culture – a Mayor of London initiative, supported by the City of London Corporation’s charity and City Bridge Trust. The Agency is a programme originally conceived by Marcus Faustini in Rio de Janeiro where it is delivered by Agência de Redes para a Juventude. The UK pilot (2013 – 15) was funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.