A strong ethos of love, hope, forgiveness and compassion underpins everything we do at From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation (FBMF).
Some of the young people who come to us have missed out on love in life; some haven’t recognised love for what it is and have rebelled against people trying to help them, others are reacting with anger and aggression to the adversity that life can sometimes deliver.
Love as we offer it at FBMF is not a soft option. Too often we respond to the demands of our children by giving them what they want rather than what we, as adults, know that they need. At FBMF we have enough confidence in our judgment to express our love by insisting on healthy, balanced meals, academic discipline and activities which are structured and supervised.
We take time and we are patient in working towards change, no matter how long it takes. Through this approach we teach young men the skills they need to relate to life, family, teachers and friends in a positive way.
In a time of transient morality and values, young men need heroes not only in the film and recording studios and on the football pitch but in the home and the classroom, on the doorstep - people whose guidance is close at hand. At FBMF we always maintain that ethical moral values must be ranked above expedience and personal preference. It is an approach that works.
About The Programme
"They don't want to have role models who are footballers, they want role models who they know personally... people who are close at home who they can emulate properly." Decima Francis
From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation, in the London Borough of Southwark, was founded in 1996 by Decima Francis and Uanu Seshmi following concern within the community about the number of young black boys being excluded from school and becoming involved with gangs, drugs and violence.
Behind their tough street image, disaffected boys like these suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. All too often they do not have positive role models or stable adults in their lives to guide them through the transition from boyhood to manhood. Excluded from school, free falling through the criminal justice system, they are on course for short and violent lives.
FBMF believes that boys in trouble deserve a chance to turn their lives around before it becomes too late. It helps teachers deal with disruptive pupils to prevent exclusions. But for those who are excluded from school, it offers an alternative to dropping out of the system and hanging out on the streets. Boys are referred to FBMF by local education authorities, special needs departments, youth-offending teams and social services departments. FBMF helps them to get back on track through its day-programme of education and self-development.
Since it began in 1996 FBMF has helped over 11,000 young people: some have returned to school or college, many have gained academic qualifications, all have re-assessed their attitudes, behaviour and direction in life.
"It is no use to keep telling a young person that they are bad and they have low self-esteem, we must instead empower them to change their negative behaviour from within by teaching them how to deal with adversity and the challenges of life." Uanu Seshmi
Who We Work With
The FBMF accepts onto its day-programme boys aged 11-19, from all cultural backgrounds, who have been excluded from school. A typical day starts at 8am when the boys go for a jog round the local park or practice breathing techniques with their youth workers. The boys have breakfast together and clear up before starting their lessons. They receive a minimum of four hours teaching each day, working towards GCSEs or A levels in core curriculum subjects.
Empowering young people to be responsible is a key element of the FBMF programme along with moral principles for the boys to follow: accountability, respect and service to the community.
"It's different here, the focus is on education. My family came to Britain from Jamaica a few years ago and that was the start of my problems. I stopped talking to people. Now I've got a lot more confidence. I go round and talk about FBMF to school kids." Huckeney, student
The FBMF also runs evening sessions, summer programmes and residential courses offering life-skills and work placements for young people, male and female, from schools in and around Southwark, Lewisham and Lambeth. The summer programme offers work experience to school leavers to give them a taste of working in the fields of media and the performing arts. The ten-day course takes place after they have completed their final exams. Previous projects have included working on a music festival and a sexual health education campaign.
"The FBMF is a brilliant alternative to school. There is no organisation like it that works with vulnerable children in the way that they do. It gets young people back on the path to mainstream education." K.Bamfo, parent
As well as helping the boys to gain academic qualifications, FBMF also places great emphasis on well-being and self-healing. It does this through the power of self-knowledge, relationships and community participation. FBMF believes that acquiring the skills of well-being, the power to forgive and knowing love through experiential life challenges prepares young people with the functional skills to deal with life and its challenges.
"Now I've become a mentor myself. Sometimes when we go into primary schools and talk, the kids cry, not because they are angry but because they know they are wrong." Edmond