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Award Winner: Jennie Matthias

Jennie MatthiasWe honour Jennie Matthias with an Intermix Positive Contribution Award for raising awareness of the issues that affect young people and her constant effort to improve the lives of those in the community less fortunate than herself.

Jennie Matthias is an ex pop singer, published poet and an ccomplished performer. She is already known both in the UK and USA for her written compositions on the cult underground circuit but she will always be remembered as one of London's originals for the part she played as lead singer to the 80's all girl group The Belle Stars. The girls
achieved four international hits and appeared on numerous music, TV and radio shows worldwide. After the band parted company, Jennie secured a deal with Capitol Records and Paramount Pictures for their version of Iko Iko for Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise's film Rain Man. This success took her to broader parts of the entertainment business and
allowed her to work with some of the world's greatest performers and musicians.

Jennie has applied her poetry, acting and song writing skills to women's campaigns (strike 2000' and 'praying for asylum'). She has facilitated workshops for various PSHE drug awareness programmes for secondary schools, run multi-media workshops for young offenders, ex prisoners, (Highbury Grove Bail Hostel) and headlined the performance for a Cultural Awareness Day held at Stocken prison Grantham. She is a founding member of the 'Listen' Moving Theatre co, where she facilitated a drama and musical sketch for children at Greenford School, taking part in a BBC Educational program for a RSI awareness seminar.

'Listen' has recently finished a successful production with a group of teenagers from Acland Burghley school. The performance was taken out of the school environment and into 'Theatro Technis' Camden Community Theatre. The topics they focused on were drugs, racism, bullying, homelessness and crime. The performance was filmed by NHK Japanese Broadcasting Corporation and went out on air in August 2001. The programme was shown three times.

Jennie has dedicated her time to raising awareness of issues that affect young people, and has now formed S-teem. A group of successful arts practitioners who have joined forces and talents to provide creative mentoring in the arts for all young people, S-teem are determined to address some of the shortfalls that lead many young people to become involved in the social services and prison systems. Their experiences of working with young people show that many find it hard to take guidance from figures of authority. Through art-based projects, they
aim to provide them with the kind of quality and meaningful experiences that will help them discriminate between positive and negative guidance and make informed choices about their lives. Jennie, who was brought up in residential care, says:

'I never had a role model or someone that I could look up to and so when I eventually left the home I went wildly astray. Looking back I know things might have been different if someone had just taken the time to guide me properly. A life in care is never easy for a youngster who is constantly nagged by the thought of rejection. The fact that there is no one to guide them suggests that we as a society do not care about them; which given their life up to now is pretty unfair on our part. Young people need guidance from a person they can trust and feel safe with, someone that will give them hope and help them shape a better future for themselves.'
Jennie Matthias


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