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The London Bus Theatre company recently benefited from VVU funding, which helped young people studying for the Arts Award make a film warning of the dangers of involvement with County Lines.

The film, entitled, “Welcome to County Lines” tells of a young person’s experience of being in a gang, including being mugged, and his struggles to break free and turn his life around. The film gives a hard-hitting message to steer clear of this world.

Kathy Austen, project manager at London Bus Theatre, said: “The message to young people from the film is if you are going to get involved in County Lines, this is the reality. The hope is that the young people involved in the project will now not ever get involved in it or not get tempted.

“A lot of young people we work with, especially boys around age 13 and 14, know of people who are getting involved with these gangs and earning a lot of money quickly. If you are from a deprived area and you see people earning a few hundred pound per week, the temptation is there. We are showing in the film that once you are in, it is hard to get out and it is just not worth it.”

The film was produced by a group of 30 young people on Canvey Island, aged between 12 to 19. While studying for the Arts Award they heard a young man speak about how County Lines had negatively impacted his life and thought this would be a good base on which to develop a hard-hitting film on the subject.

The funding from the VVU meant the Welcome to County Lines project could be launched. The young man helped to script and direct the film to make it as real to life as possible.

Production of the film was challenging; with Covid-19 lockdown hitting, the team was posed with the challenge of filming while keeping those involved safe. Filming also took place during heavy snow and freezing temperatures, which meant the production was a challenge for all involved.

Social distancing restrictions meant the young people had to find innovative ways to film scenes while keeping cast members separate. As a result, the whole film was shot using a Go-Pro worn on the main character’s head.

“It meant we shot the whole film from a first-person perspective,” said Kathy. “You never see the main character’s face, but it shows his journey.”

All the young people involved are incredibly proud of the film and are keen to enter it into short film festivals and awards.

Kathy adds: “We are determined to do something with it. It deserves to win something. That will help to get our message out even more and give a real buzz to those who took part.”

You can view the film at