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Ex-crack dealer flips the script

INSPIRATIONAL STORY: Former prisoner, now award-winning film maker Quince Garcia with business partner Julien Bernard-Grau

AN EX-CRACK dealer is transforming lives with a media project he developed to engage young people and keep them off the streets.

Quince Garcia, 32, spent up to seven years pedalling hard drugs on the streets of south London, but left the game after becoming a father and seeing the error of his ways.

He later set up Road Works, a media centre in Kennington, south London to provide opportunities for teenagers to get into the film industry. It also teaches them skills such as how to write scripts, film production, postproduction and editing.”

SCREENPLAY

Garcia revealed how he first got interested in the media while serving a 12-month prison sentence. When he was in jail, he started to pen a screenplay about the life of a gangster.

He told The Voice: “When I was selling drugs I started writing a lot of the script at the same time as a form of escapism, but when I went to prison I wrote even more. When I came out I thought rather than go to places to get it funded, I will use my own initiative to get it out there.”

With the help of business partner Julien Bernard-Grau, Road Works was launched in 2009.

Garcia, who recently received an award at the House of Lords for his project said: “We offer people a programme that will teach them a skill and a programme that teaches people how to become their own boss. This way we are trying to discourage them from joining gangs by providing another option. We are setting up a journalism centre, mentoring and a music programme that will deter them from crime. But I believe the Government should do more. They should create an atmosphere that lets teenagers know it does care about them.”

Although he spent time in prison, Garcia believes the experience helped him to shape a more positive future for himself.

“Prison helped me escape it all. I spent seven years of my life selling crack in south London, although it was a constant battle because it never really sat well with me. I never ever used to go home and think what I was doing was great. At the same time, I felt trapped. I didn’t have great social skills and I had a low self confidence and esteem.”

MEETING

When Garcia met Bernard-Grau at an event, they bonded over a shared interest in films. From that first meeting, they started to discuss plans to set up a media company.

Both were raised in south London but in very different settings: Bernard-Grau attended the prestigious Brits school while Garcia attending a local secondary school in Camberwell.

However they shared a belief that young people need opportunities to channel their talents in a positive direction.

“Bad care, bad living standards and a lack of opportunity are all the reasons why people turn to crime” says Bernard-Grau. “England has the highest child poverty rate in Europe and that’s why the Government needs to increase the minimum wage in order for people to avoid crime.”

In 2006, Garcia became the first person in his family to attend university and achieve a degree in film production, an experience which he said changed his life.

He added: “The drug lifestyle is over-glamorised especially by film and television. It’s not what it is like in real life, and that’s why we need to tell our children to stick to education. I know the implications of drugs. I am not trying to save the world but I want people to know there are alternatives out there. I see people like the late Amy Winehouse and I think it is really sad. I hope people recognise her talent and what drugs can do to them.”

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