“Twenty five years ago, I was told there are not enough people of colour working in this industry. Twenty five years later I am being told exactly the same thing”
Bob Clarke, CEO & Founder
We’ve Come a Long Way Over the Years
Bob Clarke, MAMA Youth Project’s founder, wanted to get more ethnic minorities into TV production roles. So in June 2005, Bob advertised for youths with a similar background to his.
Using his own money, Bob funded 16 young disadvantaged adults to produce two editions of the youth magazine show ‘What’s Up’. He then distributed 10,000 DVD copies of the shows free to the youth of London.
For many of those involved in the making of the show, it was a way into the world of television – a place where many have subsequently found good jobs and real satisfaction.
All in all, this confirmed Bob’s resolve to create an organisation dedicated to providing TV production training on an on-going basis.
In May 2007 the MAMA Youth Project became a registered charity and a recognised centre for television production training.
The first funding the MAMA Youth Project received was from Choice FM’s V Project. 25 young adults took part in a two-week workshop and produced a 30-minute episode of ‘What’s Up’. The participants were from four homeless charities, a young offenders unit and an organisation that helped young people excluded from full time education. The show included interviews with Levi Roots and a performance by Purple.
Over 82% of our participants are still working in the industry a year after completing the training programme.
MAMA Youth has spent the last ten years training young people from under-represented backgrounds to succeed in the media industry. So far 392 young people have completed our training since becoming a registered charity in 2007.
2005 – Bob Clarke was told 20 years earlier that here were not enough black people working in the industry. 20 years later someone said the same thing. This led him to take action and make his own contribution to change the status quo. Bob Clarke recruited himself 16 young adults from BAME and white working class backgrounds to train and then produce a magazine TV show called What’s Up London. 10,000 DVDs of the show were distributed for free.
2006 – Bob Clarke self-funded the rental of an office space and employed a full-time person to create and implement all the policies queried to set up a charity.
2007 – MAMA Youth Project became a registered charity and delivered the 1st training funded by the V Project, in conjunction with Choice FM. A 2nd training scheme took place later on in the year, which was funded by Media Box in conjunction with Media Trust.
2008 – John Lyons funded to employ a full-time staff member. Soon after, Esmee Fairbain funded a second member of staff. However, Bob Clarke was still the main funder having to re-mortgage his house for the second time.
2009 – MAMA Youth Project won The Special Recognition Award from the CDN and the charity was recognised by The Council of Europe as a top ten organisation in Europe for demonstrating good initiative and practice for diversity in television. The only other two companies recognised from the UK in the same category were the BBC and Channel 4.
2010 – What’s Up was taken on by the Community Channel.
2011 – Sky formed a partnership with MAMA Youth Project to help increase diversity within the TV industry, becoming the charity’s first industry Patron. What’s Up TV was acquired by Sky Pick TV.
2013 – BBC came on board becoming a Patron and one of the major funders. In January, the charity was the winner of Sky’s “Team Believe in Better Awards”, out of 100 applicants. MAMA Youth featured as part of Sky Academy.
2014 – Procam TV came on board as a Patron, donating £100,000 worth of HD equipment to MAMA Youth Project. What’s Up TV was nominated for a CDN award.
2015 – What’s Up TV became a Sky 1 commission.
2016 – Endemol Shine Group became a Corporate Supporter. MAMA Youth Project won the Business in the Community Award for Developing Talent.
2017 – MAMA Youth Project moves its training delivery to Sky Osterley Campus. The charity was nominated for Organisation of The Year by the Diversity in Media Award. Bob Clarke was also nominated Diversity Champion for the same award, as well as shortlisted for The Diversity Champion Award for Education at The Excellency in Diversity Awards 2017.