About and Contacts

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I’m Ali Dilnutt and I’m a busy Whitstable based mum of three gorgeous boys, trying to juggle lots of creative projects.

I was trained as a photographer back in the 80’s at Maidstone College of Art (now part of UCA), then studied my joint BA in History and Radio, Film, TV and Video at Canterbury Christ Church University, where my passion for film really took root.  I was lucky to teach A-Level Media for six years at Canterbury College, before running a beautiful medieval pub in Faversham.  After that, I worked for the charity Rainer, who delivered the 16plus service for Kent County Council, supporting young people aged 16-21 leaving the care system.  I worked with around 300 young people over the six years I was there, as a Duty Social Worker and as a Mentoring Officer – matching young people up with volunteer mentors I’d recruited from the community.  After that, I returned to work in the creative sector as the Audience Development and Education Executive for Screen South, the Regional Screen Agency for the South East.  Over five years there, I worked with over 50 regional film festivals, Regional Film Archives (Screen Archive South East and Wessex Film and Sound Archive) and archive projects, many regional film education partners as well as the BFI, Creative Skillset, Mediabox,  uScreen, Cineclub, First Light Movies and Filmclub.

Since leaving Screen South, I’ve worked freelance with Cineclub, Simon Evans and Future Creative.  I completed and self-published Hollowshore in 2012, which got through to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.  Around the same time, I started a blog to track my transition to a grey haired ‘silver sister’ called The Grey Matter with Ali which is continuing to prove very successful internationally.  I have held two successful exhibitions of my infrared photographs at the Whitstable Horsebridge Centre and The Sportsman in Seasalter and I came 2nd in the Whistable 365 Project’s competition in 2014 with an infrared shot of Long Rock in  Swalecliffe.  I exhibited my infrared work again in 2015 at Macknade Fine Foods.  I have just completed my second novel, Down From London which is published in November 2015.

So, pretty busy then!

Some of the highlights of my career:

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I secured 40k of European Social Fund money for an Erasmus Exchange trip between Canterbury College and a film school from Bolzano in Northern Italy.  I think we got the long straw – 40 of our students visited the Venice Film Festival the year Saving Private Ryan premiered.  Oh look!  There’s some of my students with Stephen Speilberg and Tom Hanks at the premiere in the Venice Lido!  It was a fantastic trip and each day, a team of our students had press passes to the Excelsior Hotel where they joined in the press conferences alongside professional journalists and broadcasters.  The poor Italians came to the London Film Festival – in the rain….  The trip became an annual feature for the Media and Film department and ran for a further six years.

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My first job at 16plus was the Community Resource Officer.  Which meant I was officially on the blag.  One of the initiatives I ran was a photography competition for the young people, supported by many local businesses with equipment, materials, printing, publicity and instruction and guidance for the young people.  It was a great success and the standard of work was extremely high.  It was a very rewarding project for everyone concerned.

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With Princes Trust support I set up a peer mentoring training programme with young people from our service to do a Btec in Mentoring in Practice.  They then went on the mentor other young people entering the service.  The scheme was risky and had a hight drop out rate but the young people that did stick with it and the people they were matched wtih gained immense benefits.

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This is me with June Sarpong at a Princes Trust event at Chessington and Rachel Cassey, the shining star of our peer mentoring programme.  Rachel went on to win Young Volunteer of the Year and was presented her award at the Houses of Parliament by David Miliband.  Here’s what she had to say to a local paper:

Best thing I ever did: Rachel Casey, 21, Dover
Wednesday 25 January 2006
My involvement in mentoring started when I mentored a young lady of 18 who was pregnant. I had a baby young myself, so I helped prepare her for the birth, and with financial things such as taking her to get childcare benefits. I met her once a week, and she wasn’t eating properly, so I’d take her for a meal and we’d chat about girly things.
Two years ago, I helped to set up the Kent 16plus Service, a peer mentoring service for care-leavers, run by Rainer and Kent County Council. It’s a really big thing now.
I still volunteer as a mentor for them and won the best young volunteer category in the Rainer Volunteer Awards last year.

Best thing I ever did: Rachel Casey, 21, Dover

By , Wednesday 25 January 2006

My involvement in mentoring started when I mentored a young lady of 18 who was pregnant. I had a baby young myself, so I helped prepare her for the birth, and with financial things such as taking her to get childcare benefits. I met her once a week, and she wasn’t eating properly, so I’d take her for a meal and we’d chat about girly things.Two years ago, I helped to set up the Kent 16plus Service, a peer mentoring service for care-leavers, run by Rainer and Kent County Council. It’s a really big thing now.

I still volunteer as a mentor for them and won the best young volunteer category in the Rainer Volunteer Awards last year.

– See more at: http://www.cypnow.co.uk/ypn/news/1068729/best-i-rachel-casey-21-dover#sthash.xyfmKbb1.dpuf

Best thing I ever did: Rachel Casey, 21, Dover

By , Wednesday 25 January 2006

My involvement in mentoring started when I mentored a young lady of 18 who was pregnant. I had a baby young myself, so I helped prepare her for the birth, and with financial things such as taking her to get childcare benefits. I met her once a week, and she wasn’t eating properly, so I’d take her for a meal and we’d chat about girly things.Two years ago, I helped to set up the Kent 16plus Service, a peer mentoring service for care-leavers, run by Rainer and Kent County Council. It’s a really big thing now.

I still volunteer as a mentor for them and won the best young volunteer category in the Rainer Volunteer Awards last year.

– See more at: http://www.cypnow.co.uk/ypn/news/1068729/best-i-rachel-casey-21-dover#sthash.xyfmKbb1.dpuf

Best thing I ever did: Rachel Casey, 21, Dover

By , Wednesday 25 January 2006

My involvement in mentoring started when I mentored a young lady of 18 who was pregnant. I had a baby young myself, so I helped prepare her for the birth, and with financial things such as taking her to get childcare benefits. I met her once a week, and she wasn’t eating properly, so I’d take her for a meal and we’d chat about girly things.Two years ago, I helped to set up the Kent 16plus Service, a peer mentoring service for care-leavers, run by Rainer and Kent County Council. It’s a really big thing now.

I still volunteer as a mentor for them and won the best young volunteer category in the Rainer Volunteer Awards last year.

– See more at: http://www.cypnow.co.uk/ypn/news/1068729/best-i-rachel-casey-21-dover#sthash.xyfmKbb1.dpuf

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in anything I’m involved in, if you want to discuss commissions, writing opportunities or collaborations.

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