Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A Message to Gordon Brown

Last week saw the start of a fabulous project, called Wee Shots. It involves one week of participatory film making with children and young people, in four different locations in the UK, a week and a minute worth of film on child poverty in the UK per location. The approach of the project is participatory, so the young people are in control of every decision in relation to what they film, how they film, how it's edited, making a total of 5 minutes of what child poverty means in the UK. The first week was in Glasgow, with the youngest group of children (8-11 year olds, with two young volunteers aged 13).

So on day 4 of the 5 intensive days, while one group of young people was out filming, the other had already been and was now working on a display about the activity. The display was completed in very little time and looked fabulous. I wasn't surprised, having worked with some of the young people before, I knew there was real arty talent present in the room. So we had time to spare. We thought it would be a good idea to send Gordon Brown a letter with a message of what this group of children thinks about the shocking levels of child poverty in the UK.

I suggested a good old traditional letter. However, this being participatory and children making the decisions, they told me a letter was boring and came up with a much better idea. A poem/song. It took the group 10 minutes to come up with this and no adult was involved in any way in the production apart from note taking:

Children living on the streets
Having no money and no treats
Ill living is so wrong
Listen to our little song
Do more about it, stop it now

Poverty is really bad and makes us really sad
Over and done with it should be
Very annoying to us you see
Everlasting is the key
Rough living shouldn't be
The time has come to make it end so this letter we decide to send
You can help us make it stop because you're at the very top


Dan said...

It's never wise to get political in blog comments. But...

It's my view that the government have actually shown their genuine commitment to reduce child poverty. there are a number of schemes that are quite innovative.

Lots more to be done of course, and lots more they could be doing. but I think the will is there.

cartside said...

Dan, I really welcome political debate, many thanks for commenting!

Just as way of expanding on the topic: I agree with you that the government have shown commitment to ending child poverty. In 1999, Tony Blair committed to ending child poverty by 2020. Since then, lots of measures have been introduced which prevented an increase in child poverty and which also reduced child poverty to some extent.

Yet, there are still 4 million children growing up in poverty in the UK, that's 1 in 4 children. The UK is the 5th richest county in the world, and society and the government have a duty to do much more.

If you read my post on the visit to a Glasgow Primary school of Jim Murphy, it's also clear that the government is listening and welcoming messages like the one above, which is a very good sign.

I also believe that ending child poverty is not just about the government doing this and doing that. It's also about empowering people living in poverty to make change happen themselves, and our activities are always about that too (hence the participatory approach to the filming).



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