A Band of Brothers helps keep young men from Brighton out of trouble

Posted On 29 Feb 2012 at 8:57 am

TP was an angry young man. His life was going off the rails. He was arrested three times for having cannabis and cocaine by the time he was 14.

As a result the Brighton teenager was given a six-month referral order.

For many youngsters like him, this would be one of the first steps along the way to a life of crime. But TP was offered a second chance. And he took it willingly.

While being supervised by the Youth Offending Service he was put in touch with A Band of Brothers – a men’s circle where volunteers act as mentors to troubled youngsters. Many of the youngsters, like TP, come from Whitehawk, although he has since moved to Portslade.

Finn Taylor with TP

He went with the volunteers on a weekend camp, known as the Quest, before asking one of them to act as his mentor. He joins the circle every week and sees his mentor weekly too.

Now 15, TP said: “I got really lucky. One of the people at the Youth Offending Service told me about Band of Brothers and how it might help me with my anger.

“A lot of things have changed since I’ve been on Band of Brothers. You can decide to change.”

Alex Bailey, one of the team running A Band of Brothers, said: “We’re about demonstrating to young men that there’s a different way and a more adult way of being.

“Unless they’re engaged in sport there probably aren’t a lot of adult males around to show them.

“A lot of the young men we work with may not see an older man unless he’s arresting them.”

Mr Bailey said that, in the past, factories were the sort of place where boys became men – the Armed Forces too – often involving initiation rites.

A Band of Brothers tries to tap into the mythology behind initiations and rites of passage as a way of helping young men, some of whom have already been locked up.

He said that these rites of passage were common to many cultures but had largely vanished from our own.

The Quest is part of this process, taking the young men away from their homes. It’s a camp where older men help them learn what it takes to be a real man, to accept responsibility for their actions and to live a better life.

It has echoes – quite deliberately – of the legend of Parsifal and the Holy Grail. The young knight went off on a quest and met temptation before returning triumphant.

The name Band of Brothers has literary roots too – it’s from the St Crispin’s Day speech by the King in Shakespeare’s Henry V.

It’s inspired most of those who have taken part, with 44 young men joining the scheme so far, Mr Bailey said, adding: “We have spent a long time creating a group of about 70 older men who are skilled in mentoring.”

TP’s mentor is Finn Taylor, 39, who runs a web design firm. He said: “Originally I got involved because my business partner was involved and it sounded interesting.”

The mentors are given extensive training and Mr Taylor said that it had proved very rewarding.

TP said of Mr Taylor: “It’s great knowing you’ve got someone who will help and knowing you’ve got someone who’ll listen, who’ll pick up the phone any time.

“When we came back from the weekend with Band of Brothers, I decided I don’t want to do this (getting into trouble) any more. I’m a rapper. I’m planning to do music technology.

“I might move to Kent because my mum lives there.”

Then he looked at Mr Taylor and said: “But we’ll still meet up.”

And it’s hard not to hope that they will.

  1. Joel Chennery Reply


    my name is Joel Chennery, im a psychiatric nurse working with young people. I am currently looking after a young man whom i believe would really benefit from having support from the Band of Brothers in Whitehawk.

    I would like to refer this young man but cant seem to find out how i go about doing this. if possible, would you be able to send me their contact details?

    My work email address is: joel.chennery@sussexpartnership.nhs.uk

    Kind Regards

    Joel Chennery
    Senior Staff Nurse

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