Who Are We?

Philosophy We Strive For

Andy & Matt Smith are brothers who were placed into the care system by social services after neglectful parenting from their biological mother and father.

In our experience many young people often ask professionals “What do you know?” this is where our service differs from others as we have lived a life within the care system and without a mum and dad for the majority of our lives.

Combined with our professional experience and qualifications we are able to offer that shared life experience and offer advice and guidance based on real life and not just from a text book. We find this resonates with young people because we as adults are able to open up to them they in turn open up to us.

Smash Life is also creative on its approach to mentoring and getting young people to open up. It is limiting to just sit in a room and ask a young person to just “talk about it” and this can be oppressive for some young people.

By bringing sport, music, games, walks, and trips to the Mentoring we have found they create better results and the young people actually enjoy and look forwards to the sessions. We now also offer an NOCN accreditation which can be completed alongside our mentoring service!

Smash Life is also an award winning company having won the Mayor of Shrewsbury Gold Award for the Overall Winners in the Youth Category 2019, been nominated for the National Community Organisation Award for AGE at The National Diversity Awards 2020 in association with ITV news and have been mentioned in Telford & Wrekin Council Outstanding OFSTED report in 2020.  Telford & Wrekin was the first Council outside London to go from Requires Improvement (2016) to OUTSTANDING! and the only Council in the West Midlands and North West to be OUTSTANDING!

Skills We Teach

Communication 100%
One to One engagement 100%
How to deal with trauma 100%
Gaining a Positive Outcome 100%
Building Resilience 100%
Exploring Solutions to Problems 100%
Identifying Positive Activities 100%

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What we do

Find out how Smash Life can help you

Inspirational Talks

The talks cater to young people and professionals and will focus on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Abuse, Complex Trauma and Safeguarding and are designed to help professionals understand children and young peoples behaviour, change approaches and perceptions and bring a reality to practice that can’t be obtained through books. For young people they will receive a hard hitting, factual story that will help them to understand that they are not alone with their own trauma's and can build up their own skills and resilience, following the positive example set by the Smash Life brothers.

Learning for Professionals

The talks cater to young people and professionals and will focus on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Abuse, Complex Trauma and Safeguarding and are designed to help professionals understand children and young peoples behaviour, change approaches and perceptions and bring a reality to practice that can’t be obtained through books. For young people they will receive a hard hitting, factual story that will help them to understand that they are not alone with their own trauma’s and can build up their own skills and resilience, following the positive example set by the Smash Life brothers.

Mentoring

Our bespoke and unique shared life, one to one mentoring sessions are for young people needing a positive role model, guidance and a listening ear.

Aimed at young people

Our bespoke and unique shared life, one to one mentoring sessions are for young people needing a positive role model, guidance and a listening ear.

Group Work

A safe space for young people to listen, discuss, share and learn about difficult topics or issues that have been identified by you or them e.g. drugs, alcohol, masculinity, gang culture, future aspirations and promoting positive / healthy relationships.

Positivity

A safe space for young people to listen, discuss, share and learn about difficult topics or issues that have been identified by you or them e.g. drugs, alcohol, masculinity, gang culture, future aspirations and promoting positive / healthy relationships.

Training / Consultation

We are able to use our experience of growing up in the social care system and working within it to provide advice and guidance so that your organisation is a young person centred service. We are available to deliver bespoke training courses for you and your staff team.

Training / Consultation

We are able to use our experience of growing up in the social care system and working within it to provide advice and guidance so that your organisation is a young person centred service.  We are available to deliver bespoke training courses for you and your staff team.

Team Members

Andy Smith

Managing Director of Smash Life

Andy realised he had a passion to engage children and young people and started working with young people as a play leader in the summer of 2000. During this time Andy had moved in with supportive lodgings carers and was studying for a BTEC in Sports Science at Shrewsbury College of Arts And Technology. Andy quickly established the importance of hard work and also had two other jobs at college working at a local restaurant as a kitchen porter and at Perfect Pizza.

Following the completion of his college course Andy Moved to Chester University to study Sports Science. Andy admits the University lifestyle and his avoidance, lack of support from the trauma he suffered as a child in care led him onto a path of self destruction. Andy failed his first year at University, but enrolled onto a Geography degree. This is where Andy flourished and realised he could not be a victim of his past and graduated with a 2:2 BA hons degree in 2006.

Following the completion of his degree and bringing an end to four years living in Chester Andy secured a job as “Support and Guidance worker” working for the Leaving Care Team at Shropshire County Council. This was where Andy would really shape his skills and enhance his desire to work with the most vulnerable young people in the community.  Andy felt that this job gave him a sense of purpose and that the young people he supported were inspired by his journey in care and positive approach. During this role Andy was also successful in landing an internship as an advisor for the Associate Parliament Group for looked After Children offering advice around policy and change for young people as well as championing the Young Persons voice.

Andy has since worked for local councils, and the NHS leading and supporting various health projects targeting at enhancing the wellbeing of children, young people and adults. Andy particually enjoyed working on a project called Telford Green Gym where he worked on a day to day basis introducing adults to exercising in green spaces enhancing their community as well as their own wellbeing. Andy admits this also had a positive effect on his own wellbeing working in a calm and therapeutic environment.

Andy then ran a project in a community in Telford, being a positive role model as a community Development Worker in a community that had been rocked by CSE and ASB. Andy found this is where he came into his own, working with different age groups, cultures and learning how to effectively educate, inspire and bring people together promoting community cohesion.

For the past 14 years Andy has worked extensively with vulnerable young people and adults, managed staff and volunteers and has recently joined forces with his brother Matt to form Smash Life utilising both their personal and professional experiences to inform, educate and inspire young people and fellow professionals through shared life mentoring, talks, training, group work and consultancy.

Andy has always maintained that working directly with young people, his love of sport, football and living a healthy lifestyle with a positive attitude has been the main constant in his life and something that acts as a form of therapy. Through Andy’s love of sport and exercise and Matt’s love of Music, Smash life are able to offer vulnerable young people a positive diversion.

In 2019 Andy alongside his brother Matt won the Shrewsbury Town Council Mayors Award for ‘making a difference to young people’ as part of Smash Life’s outstanding work within the area. Smash Life have been nominated for the National Community Organisation Award for AGE at The National Diversity Awards 2020 in association with ITV news and have been mentioned in Telford & Wrekin Council Outstanding OFSTED report in 2020.  Telford & Wrekin was the first Council outside London to go from Requires Improvement (2016) to OUTSTANDING! and the only Council in the West Midlands and North West to be OUTSTANDING!

Having sold out their Smash Life Launch Event in 2019 the Smith brothers have gone onto to be booked by Universities, Private Foster Care Organisations, Safeguarding Conferences, Schools, Colleges, Charities, Pupil Referral Units, to talk to CEO’s, managers, professionals, students and young people around the UK. These powerful talks have a clear aim, to improve practice amongst professionals and inspire the next generation of young people who may themselves suffered early childhood traumas.

Watch out for public Smash Life Talks which you can buy tickets for and see it for yourself.

Matt Smith

Director of Smash Life

Matt started working with young people as a playleader for Shropshire Council in the summer of 2000 all whilst still coming to terms with his own childhood abuse. Despite failing college because of his chaotic home life Matt then went onto achieve a 2:1 BA honours degree at Leicester De Montfort University in Youth & Community Development. Whilst at university and as part of his course Matt worked in a community project supporting adults with mental health illness’s and then at Leicester YMCA within a Lifeskills project. During this second placement Matt was offered a job at Leicester YMCA working as part of the community education division with NEET young people aged 16 -25 years of age within a hostel setting. Matt was nominated and won a ‘Making a Difference’ award by the very young people he worked alongside during this time.

Matt then successfully secured a job back at Shropshire Council and was employed as a youth worker managing various youth clubs and projects in schools within the Shrewsbury area. Matt also worked as a drugs and alcohol educator for the charity Choices, where he went and spoke/delivered workshops in many secondary schools, colleges, youth clubs to young people and adults about drugs and alcohol.

Matt has also supported The Care Council Crew in Shrewsbury, a project set up to listen and advocate for the voices of young people within the care system as well as facilitating various trips and award evenings. Matt has also been commissioned to carry out research on young people’s views and opinions on growing up in the care system and the service they have received by Shropshire Council.

Matt was then moved into a role during the economic recession to one of a Targeted Youth Worker within the Early Help Safeguarding Team, working with young people and families with complex needs from 2011 -2019. This role within Early Help main aim was to stop the breakdown of families so that young people were not placed into the care system. Matt’s role involved going into families homes, working alongside young people, parents and social services by providing a robust plan as a lead professional to empower and make positive changes and oversee and bring in other professionals expertise if they were needed. In the event of concerns being raised or the situation for a particular family getting worse an in depth knowledge of the Safeguarding system was required in order to keep young people safe.

In 2019 Matt left Shropshire Council to begin work alongside his brother Andy at Smash Life. Smash Life then went onto win the Shrewsbury Town Council Mayors Award for ‘making a difference to young people’ as part of Smash Life’s outstanding work within the area. Smash Life have been nominated for the National Community Organisation Award for AGE at The National Diversity Awards 2020 in association with ITV news and have been mentioned in Telford & Wrekin Council Outstanding OFSTED report in 2020.  Telford & Wrekin was the first Council outside London to go from Requires Improvement (2016) to OUTSTANDING! and the only Council in the West Midlands and North West to be OUTSTANDING!

Having sold out their Smash Life Launch Event in 2019 the Smith brothers have gone onto to be booked by Universities, Private Foster Care Organisations, Safeguarding Conferences, Schools, Colleges, Charities, Pupil Referral Units, to talk to CEO’s, managers, professionals, students and young people around the UK. These powerful talks have a clear aim, to improve practice amongst professionals and inspire the next generation of young people who may themselves suffered early childhood traumas.

Watch out for public Smash Life Talks which you can buy tickets for and see it for yourself.

For the past fourteen years Matt has also managed and performed as a singer/guitarist in various event party bands and has gigged extensively throughout the UK and abroad at various corporate and private occasions. In 2019 Matt’s current band Sonic Boom won ‘The Best Wedding Band in the West Midlands’ by Event Entertainment.

In 2012 Matt released his first solo EP of his own original music under his musical persona ‘Sonnetsmith’. Matt continues to write songs under Sonnetsmith and will continue to release them alongside future Smash Life videos – so watch this space!

Rich Shaw

Mentor

Richard is the latest addition to the Smash Life Team. His working background has been about as varied as they come including stints overseas working in the tourism sector and even positions in broadcasting, but his passion has always been with helping others leading him to a career spanning 15 years working on youth engagement projects and outdoor education.

A part time self-employed graffiti artist Richard first met Andy in 2012 when they collaborated on a youth project giving young people the chance to try their hand at graffiti art and take ownership of a community mural which still proudly stands in Arleston, Telford. Following this they have both worked together on youth sports projects, taken part in charity challenges and worked with countless young people across the borough in a range of capacities.

“I knew straight away that Smash Life was something I wanted to be involved with” says Richard, speaking about the company.

“Andy’s and Matt’s approach with young people has always been inspirational and we hold similar values and a proven history of building a rapport with individuals who are struggling in life and do not readily access support.”

“Smash Life’s ethos is simple, always be positive, always support and do not make judgements – try simply to understand what people are going through.”

“I find the Smash Life mentality so powerful, not just for those I support, but also for my own life.  Since becoming involved I am much more self-aware, more at ease with difficulties I have experienced in my own past and much more motivated to be the best person I could possibly be – a mind-set which I try to share with all the young people I work with.”

Speaking on what other attributes he brings to the project Richard is keen to emphasise the importance of having goals and positive past times to help you in life

“I am heavily involved in competition sport and using my body to its full potential empowers me to look after it. I am also a huge advocate of nature-therapy and engaging with the wilderness for well being”

“Teaching people of all ages to respect nature and to get outside and be active are about the best things you can do to look after your physical and mental health – while I cater for the needs of every individual I work with I like to encourage this positive message above all others.”

Kevin Bartlett

Head of Media / Mentor

Kevin is the Smash Life Head of Media / Designer and is responsible for the logo design and branding of the company along with the design of our website, apparel, flyers and everything else media related.

An experienced musician and professional drummer, Kevin has 27 years of playing and touring experience with various bands. In 2014 he was fortunate enough to be able to play a short tour of the USA culminating in an appearance at Mike Portnoy’s (ex Dream Theater drummer) Progressive Nation at Sea and then the UK festival Tech Fest with his progressive metal band “Eumeria”.

Kevin has also appeared in Modern Drummer magazine and is a professional mixing / mastering engineer and producer. He currently mixes and masters for Chicago based Youtube sensations “Camille and Kennerly” AKA “the Harp Twins”. Kevin is also the drummer in the “Sonic Boom” band along with Smash Life Director Matt!

Drawing on his studio experience Smash Life are able to offer young people an in depth studio course or “studio experience” whereby they can visit a local Studio and under Kevin’s guidance, learn skills both in physical audio engineering and recording software’s that will enable them to write, produce and record their own music, as well as offering drumming masterclasses and drumming lessons.

Experiencing severe bullying during his school years, which at the time led him to suffer anxiety, become withdrawn and fake illnesses just to stay at home, Kevin was also pretending to his parents that he was attending school when in fact he was “skiving” to avoid the pain he was experiencing at the hands of his school bullies.

As a mentor Kevin is able to draw from this and other traumatic experiences during his adolescent years to offer a unique insight into how trust issues from a lack of confidence and fear can corrupt your thoughts, make you believe that you can’t succeed and ultimately leave you with massive insecurities. Kevin is able to meet young people, share his story and offer solutions with them that he found helpful to help identify their issues and together with them, work towards ways to overcome them. Many young people who have met Kevin have been inspired to go on to become musicians/drummers, finding that confidence within a positive activity!

Lee Murad

Filmographer / Mentor

Lee Murad is an experienced film maker from the North West of England who has been producing films across the UK and abroad for the last twenty years. Lee is also very experienced working in the wedding sector and most weekends you can find him travelling across the UK to film those special moments for newly-wed couples. Lee first started out producing his own short films and music videos after he graduated from Liverpool University where he completed a Film and Media studies degree.

 

Lee has always had a great passion for film and says: “I always wanted to be able to share my experiences as a film maker with young people to pass on my knowledge and to inspire them. When I was given the opportunity to work in the education sector I found myself working alongside children from a primary and secondary school age. I was asked to produce films on topics like Anti-Bullying and Drug & Substance misuse from a young person’s perspective and it really gave me a sense of purpose”. Lee also ran a film festival at the end of a school year which showcased young people’s own work on the big screen. Over a ten year period over six hundred short films were shown at a local cinema to give young people the full cinematic experience. Lee has found working with children and young people such a rewarding process for him personally and it has allowed young people to express themselves positively through film, given them a chance to act or direct and to help give some of them self-confidence through a positive activity.

 

Lee cites directors Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola as some of his favourite film makers and is an avid film goer. Lees filming style has been described by those who have booked him as cinematic and emotive as he uses a range of cameras, drones and angles to get those all-important shots.

 

Lee is available to be booked specifically to come into your educational setting and produce short films with young people/professionals on a range of identified issues. Lee can also be booked to film a special event or occasion (e.g. An Award Ceremony) for you and then edit the footage afterwards so you have a professional memory of it captured forever.

Watch the Smash Life videos

Feedback

Reactions from some of our recent clients!

Thank you for coming along and sharing your story with us all. Such a heartfelt speech that moved everyone in the room, and lots of really important information to take away.”

“Just had the most inspirational speech from these lads. Absolutely amazing and they should be very proud of themselves and their achievements”

Matthew William, Care Home Manager - Keys Group

“Incredible. Thank you for sharing your story and advice”

Christine Dunn, Professional

“These remarkable brothers suffered long term abuse, humiliation, degradation and shame at the hands of those entrusted with their care. Their life story is one of courage, resilience and determination.. Their promise to use yesterday and their commitment to each other today, is to be the change for children that they should have experienced. If you are looking for conference speakers, mentors for your children these chaps are going to be booked up very quickly after being invited for by the consortium for therapeutic communities to their first conference debut yesterday.”

Sarah Morgan, Specialist Advisor, Education and Childrens Social Care

“It was really good, he was really cool and I enjoyed the talk because Matt was funny, down to earth and really relatable, not like some teachers who just talk down to you”.

Pupil, Charlton Secondary School Telford

“Having heard Andy and Matt speak I was able to relate many of the things they said to me and to the young people I work with and could only hope the young people that I work with develop a tiny bit of insight that Andy and Matt have. Their talk and shared experiences show that young people do not need to be a victim of their past and hearing this first hand can only strengthen this belief with the young people they work with. The motivation, humour, honesty and frankness of the talk is moving and exhilarating. I felt a roller coaster of emotions listening but felt even more motivated to support the young people I work with. Since meeting Andy and Matt I have spoken to young people about them – shared their messages and views. Their words have stayed with me and I can relate their experiences to many different situations I come across in my role. I thought I knew a lot “looked after children” , care leavers, the system – but learnt more from this talk than any other course, training or from books.”

Kathryn Packer, Education Liaison Officer

“I was lucky to hear Andy and Matt present earlier this year and their story must be one that has resonated with me the most. Ever. It has informed our practice at Sandcastle Care and we now weave our therapeutic web into colleges and schools offering trauma informed care training even further. Thank you Andy. Thank you Matt.”

Helen Barton , Head of Therapeutic Services at Sandcastle Care

“Andy has a fresh delivery style to bring home the stark reality of young people in crisis and dwelling on his past experiences he provides many ideas on helping young people to get on the right path to make the best life choices they can. He is an inspiration to young people everywhere who are daunted by the challenges life brings them.”

Helen Ball , Shrewsbury Town Council Clerk

“What a breakthrough……he has told you more than he would’ve shared with carers or me on the first meeting”

Social Worker, Shropshire Council

Andy has provided our most vulnerable students with support that they would not be able to access within school. His unique perspective on the issue experienced by LAC has enabled our students to feel secure, in particular during the stressful exam season. This is an excellent example of use of pupil premium funding.”

Teacher, Holy Trinity School - Telford

“…really looks forward to her sessions which is such a transformation – when ….has something to think about ….opens up with us here which is such a relief and …also feels reassured about things on her mind knowing ….can talk it over with Matt”

Parent, Mentoring Client

“Andy and Matt give so much to those they work with, they really are an inspiration to so many. Being able to relate to the young people they mentor through their shared life experiences gives the young people someone they can connect with openly. I would highly recommend Smash Life.”

Natalie Prudence, Elite Dance Studios

“A big thank you for helping so far on this absolute monumental journey I’ve been on: Anger, Emotions, and Positive vibes so again thank you so much”

Young Person, Mentee

“ Since I have seen you I am not arguing with the teachers, its good to know someone has been there and understands.”

Young Person, Mentee

“I just want to say a massive thank you to Andy for the support I have been given. I can always know that no matter what mood I am in I will always come out of the session smiling. More people should be like this looking out for others.”

Young Person, Mentee

Our Partners

We are proud to work alongside the Council’s, Schools, Businesses and Groups listed below.

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