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Money seized from criminals goes towards aspiring Black Country rap artists

Money that has been seized from criminals has been put towards helping aspiring musicians from the Black Country to launch their own rap careers.

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Anti-knife crime charity Birmingham Says No secured £2,636 from West Midlands Police commissioner Simon Foster to help aspiring rappers – aged between 14 and 21 – to work in a professional music studio and make their own music videos with the help of industry experts.

The 12-week project, funded by WMP's Helping Communities Fund, was led by anti-knife crime charity Birmingham Says No and supported by local record label Toppa Top Records.

The young artists who benefitted from the scheme applied through Instagram, before charity co-founders Rachel Warren and Dee Kelly picked Handsworth artists Busy and DY Loading as well as Wolverhampton's K Psalms and L'z from Oldbury.

PCC Smion Foster with Black Country rappers and the Birmingham Says No charity

A special event was held at KPMG in Birmingham where friends and family of the musicians watched the music videos premiered on screen.

PCC Simon Foster said: "It was a brilliant evening working with Birmingham Says No and to have an opportunity to invest in this fantastic project, to support young people and to give them an opportunity to express their abilities and talents.

"The attraction about supporting projects like this is that it’s funded through my Helping Communities Fund. That is an opportunity for me to invest proceeds of crime back into communities that have often been the victims of criminal activities.

"I cannot think of a better way of reinvesting proceeds of crime than that. I’d also like to commend and pay tribute to Birmingham Says No. I’ve known Rachel and Dee for over four years now and I’m well aware of the amazing work they do, working with young people, to prevent and tackle knife crime."

Rachel Warren, managing director for Birmingham Says No, said: "This project has been amazing. It started off just as an idea where we wanted to get young people together to give them the opportunity to develop a profession as musicians.

"Without the Helping Communities Fund this was a project that wouldn’t have taken place. As well as the young people, we’ve also been able to engage with their friends and families.

"It’s been fantastic to use the Helping Communities Fund to put that money to good use and to say, ‘You know what, you don’t have to pay for this, we’re paying for this, we’re going to champion you on this programme’ has been phenomenal and it’s been a really big help to us."

Last year, PCC Simon Foster's Helping Communities Fund donated £240,000 to 92 local community groups and charities across Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, and Coventry.

Ahead of launching his all-new Police and Crime Plan for the next five years, PCC Simon Foster said: “From my perspective as Police and Crime Commissioner, it’s absolutely essential we believe in, engage with, listen to, work with and, importantly, invest in our young people.

"Having been re-elected, I’m going to be preparing a new Police and Crime Plan for the West Midlands in the months to come. I want to pledge that the best interests of young people will always be a top priority for me in all actions and decisions that affect young people in the West Midlands."

Applications for this year's Helping Communities Fund are expected to reopen again very soon. More information can be found here.

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