I came to Dundee in 1996 to study a Masters in Public Health. It was the first proactive choice about my future that I had made to that point in my life. My thesis postulated doing a piece of social action research exploring the impact of a number of social determinants on health outcomes. I eventually managed to do the research as a youth worker in 1998, at Baldragon Academy, which at the time was a New Community School.
Whilst I did the research an important shift happened in my thinking. Health is a complex outcome of many factors, and based on my anecdotal experience I began to believe that good education was in the long run more impactful than good health. I was young and unencumbered then and didn’t really understand the true substance of my thinking, but I now realise what a significant breakthrough that was. The notion of equitable access to education, the role and place of [progressive] education within society, the centrality of education as a key health determinant; all these interconnected ideas began coalescing in my mind. Furthermore, education as a barometer of life outcomes is borne out by the literature across a range of different fields, and education is still the primary and best route out of poverty for most of the world’s poor.
I co-founded Front Lounge as Pure Media UK in 2001 after a sequence of insightful projects revealed to me and the cohort of people around me at the time just how low the expectations were for certain sections of our community, who were leaving school with poor grades and little direction. We had a simple premise: surely, we could do better than this.
And since 2001 we have travelled the length and breadth of the globe with a very simple message: Life is big, be all you can be! It was our mantra then and remains our mantra now.
The stories on this website are overwhelmingly positive. And rightly so. These remarkable people have overcome so much to get to where they are currently. Their stories though tend to leave out the worry, the stress, the fall outs, the despair, the hurt, the darkness… Imagine a group of people roiled with uncertainty, a lack of confidence and self-belief, and no clear idea of how to accomplish the task in hand. These conditions are standard for Front Lounge.