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Published on November 13th, 2012 | by The Town Crier



by Carolyn T Gray
It was interesting to find out, midway through constructing this piece, that Tunbridge Wells has a
younger age profile than the national average. Growing up can be fraught with problems and
insecurities. There is a lot of pressure these days for everyone to achieve the most they can with
their lives. Not succeeding can give a sense of isolation, and a new project set up in Tunbridge
Wells hopes to help with this.
Safe for Kent is a new youth led project, part of Voluntary Action Within Kent (VAWK) and stands
for “Suicide Awareness for Everyone”. The committee is made from a group of local sixth formers
and the plan is to raise awareness of the support and help that is available to young people, who
may feel they have un-solvable problems. The committee decided the first and best way to reach
out would be to make a video that could be shown in schools and on YouTube. Looking for a way to
make the video, VAWK contacted Trinity Theatre. Samuel Marlow, local writer, producer and
director, works with the Trinity Youth Theatre and their School of Shock, and was happy to assist
with the videoing. Sam set out to find most of the locations, and used actors mainly from Trinity
Youth Theatre.
One scene was filmed in Grosvenor and Hilbert Park, by the Overspray mural, and another scene
near Grosvenor Bridge, on the newly landscaped area. The Friends of Grosvenor and Hilbert Park
were happy to assist Sam in sorting out these locations, and I went along on the evening to take
some still photos. The young people involved were very professional in their acting and filming
skills, and a credit to their parents and schools. The video can be viewed as: SAFE Video “Talk to
Someone” on YouTube. Other scenes from Tunbridge Wells you may spot are at the Grove and
Calverley Road. The aim of the video is to get young people to talk, rather than keep their thoughts
bottled up. The characters in the video range in age from 11 and starting secondary school, to 20
and being at university, and while they are actors, the stories all came from research carried out by
A launch party for the video is planned in Tunbridge Wells Forum on November the 9th, with three
or four local bands, including Tired Angels and Lion. The committee are taking a major part in
organising the evening, so it will be aimed at their age group, but open to all. Any young person
who is interested in joining the committee can contact safe@vawk.org.uk
While SAFE is in the early stages of being a local support service, YoungMinds is the UK’s leading
charity committed to improving the emotional well-being and mental health of children and young
people. The charity can be contacted by concerned parents on a free phone helpline. YoungMinds
also talk directly to children who have worries, and work with health professionals. Have a look at
their website to see all that they do nationally: www.youngminds.org.uk/
One such health professional is psychiatrist Dr Erica Cini. Erica is also a musician, playing violin
with the Maidstone Symphony Orchestra primarily, and also with the Paul Dunton Orchestra. Erica
wanted to do something to raise awareness about YoungMinds, whilst also fundraising for them.
She arranged an evening in September at Tunbridge Wells Forum, showcasing four local acts, Jon
Mills, The Breretons, Rocket Lovers with Coco Levie, and Son of Kirk, with a total of £535 raised.
Not just raising money, this event raised awareness, and introduced the audience to a variety of
Tunbridge Wells Forum is currently having a refurbishment, including a pleasantly landscaped
garden. One late summer afternoon I sat outside and had a chance to talk to two of the people
involved, Jason Dorman and Richard Simm. Despite the on-going refurbishment and having won
NME Britain’s Best Small Venue, The Forum can still be treated with suspicion by it’s town’s
residents. The Forum hosts an incredible wide range of bands, from young local groups starting out,
to folk acts, to international bands. Richard suggested I sit down once a week with the Forum
listings page and YouTube and have a listen to what’s coming up. Looking through the listings for
November, I saw that on Thursday 22nd Lucero are playing. This country, rock band from
Memphis, Tennessee, have been playing since 1998, and are in the UK to play at 6 venues –
Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Bristol, Brixton… and Tunbridge Wells. What an accolade for
our town to be picked as their venue in the South East, alongside major cities. Tickets are always
easy to purchase online, and you will be greeted by The Forum with a warm welcome whatever
your age. If you are under 16 you can’t come in without an adult, and if you are under 18 you will
not be served alcohol.
This under 16s rule does come with disadvantages. At an age when they are studying for GCSEs, in
the past 14 and 15 year olds were allowed entry unattended. By attending gigs an interest in not just
music but production, sound engineering, and also photography, film, art and writing is fostered. If
Tunbridge Wells has a slightly larger percentage of young people, surely we’d like them to be
occupied and interested? On Sunday November 18th the first ever “all Dayer” will be held at The
Forum, so while still 16+ door policy, this gives a chance to hear some music without a late night,
maybe take your under 16 year old and see what’s happening?
Someone who benefits through his music writing and performing is Henry Willard, who I saw sing
at an Acoustic Valium night at The Bedford, Tunbridge Wells. I was surprised to find out that Henry
didn’t lack confidence to perform in the pub, he lacks confidence WITHOUT his music:
“I’ve always felt very comfortable and relaxed playing live music in front of a crowd. I started
playing live music and singing in front of audiences from the age of 10, and get a real buzz from
playing live music. In everyday life however, I do suffer from a lack of assertiveness and
confidence in certain situations. I suffer from mild agoraphobia, although I am slowly getting better
in certain environments. Music is an output for me. I am a particular lover of lyrics and slow songs.
Where going out is sometimes a real struggle for me, if I’m playing music, writing down my
thoughts and feelings and turning them into lyrics, or merely listening to music I love and enjoy, it
helps calm me down and helps me relax.”
Whatever your age everyone needs an interest, a hobby, something that takes us away from
everyday, and for those at school, piled high with studies and expectations, this is equally

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