02:48AM, Wednesday 25 September 2013
Joe Sparks, 31 and Richard Allen, 38, first established Everyday Arts 10 years ago as a theatre group for young people.
But since acquiring their own premises at Albert Street two years ago they have launched the Green Room Project - offering educational support to 12 to 16-year-olds who can not go to ordinary schools because of bullying, depression or anxiety.
Everyday Arts is is now a registered charity working closely with the Royal Borough. Joe and Richard - both teachers themselves - head a team of 11.
Joe's mum Patty is a member of the team, as well as his fiancee Lexie and Richard's wife Nikki.
Joe said: "There is an awkward truth out there that needs exposing.
"Some children are paying the terrible price of having no education because of something that is not their fault."
The youngsters in the Green Room Project learn academic subjects like maths and English. But they also learn anger management and have access to massage, yoga and group therapy.
The results have been amazing - with 100 per cent success rates in GCSEs and pupils going on to further education. Now there is a long waiting list.
Joe said: "One girl has just her completed her first full week of education in three and a half years since coming to us.
"Another pupil who had a serious eating disorder when he came to us has put on two stone and is waiting to go to college."
Making up the charity's management team of three is Clare Vincent - a former top BBC executive who handles the commercial side of the operation.
Clare said: "Having spent over 20 years working in big corporate organisations it's time to give something back."
Famous hypnotist and entertainer Derren Brown is the patron of Everyday Arts.
He said: "I have watched Joe's passion and dedication to this wonderful cause grow over the years and I've seen him work true magic in getting these young people to where they need to be. I am very proud to be involved in the Green Room Project."
Derren was not the only one to be impressed. Earlier this year Joe and his team used the Easter holiday to transform the office next door, refurbishing it as a room to be used by their own pupils.
He said: "The owner of the site was going to sell it but when we asked if we could rent it for our pupils to use he was so intrigued by the work we were doing that he agreed.
"We refurbished it ourselves over the Easter holiday."
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