ON THE GROUND: Youth Culture Television

Dominic Wood

Scheme: YCTV enables disadvantaged 11-20 year-olds to learn about TV production

Funding: £60,000 from Channel 4, £25,000 (plus a £17,000 bursary) from the Carlton TV Trust, and goods worth £80,000 from the BBC

Objectives: To entice people to find out about the creative process of making TV programmes and to assist young talent into media careers

Youth Culture Television held its first awards ceremony in London this month after nearly 10 years as a charitable foundation.

Known as YCTV, the charity steers teenagers away from deprivation and gang culture and offers the opportunity to act, present, produce and operate cameras, in the hope that they will pursue a career in media.

The event was hosted by the cream of YCTV's members - Nana Wilson, tipped as a future MTV presenter, and Phoebe Jones. The pair spent half the night returning to the stage as Wilson scooped three awards including best senior presenter, while Jones won best senior actress. "Two years ago, when I was 19, my parents went abroad, leaving me with no money to live or go to college," says Jones. "My sister was ill and I had to work to pay rent.

YCTV showed me the light and helped many others on my local estate, who hung around in gangs."

A fittingly televisual start was given to the charity in 1994 when BBC Television's Challenge Anneka decked out its studios in Ladbroke Grove. Generous corporate donations have since moved things on, including almost £150,000 worth of computer equipment from UK Online in 2001.

Salim Salam, YCTV's managing director, says: "We are now perceived positively within the industry as a company that successfully develops new talent." Indeed, soul singer Lamar spent time there before coming third in BBC1's Fame Academy last year, and launching his first hit single this summer.

Brazilian Pamella Bisson might just be the next big thing. The 19-year-old, who won best newcomer actress, says: "YCTV helped me escape from the troubles of reality back home. It has given me a platform into the media industry and enlarged my skills." She recently landed a radio show on Choice FM called YCTV Treats. Set up to provide seven-15 year-olds with an outlet for their opinions, Bisson will produce as well as present it.

The charity won its first terrestrial commission three years ago with Pass the Mic, which broadcast interviews with Mick Jagger, Harrison Ford, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair on BBC2. It also supplies terrestrial TV with fresh presenting talent such as 16-year-old Isha Janneh, a panel judge in last summer's Channel 4 reality show, Trust Me I'm A Teenager.

The foundation's total income for 2002-3 reached £684,000. Some of this pays for its 20 staff, which includes 13 tutors.

YCTV will feature on Channel 4 series Citizen Power next month.

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