It’s always very worrying when a parent of a young person you’ve been working with approaches you with the words “I’ve got a bone to pick with you!” This, sweat making, greeting happened this week in connection to a new project we have been running exploring human rights. The parent in question went on to explain how her child had stopped her whilst she was brushing her child’s hair, oh no, we started thinking, have we encouraged the group to question the actions of their parents as being against their human rights?!! But no… the story had a much more meaningful ending… The parent went on to explain how her daughter had stopped to announce a life decision… “I’ve decided what job I want to do when I leave school.” Again, oh no, what have we encouraged a life in the arts against the better judgement of her parents… “I want to be a human rights lawyer!” What a brilliant surprise and what a testament to the impact the project is already having on its participants.
Since January we have been involved with a very exciting project funded as part of the national #iwill campaign. A series of taster sessions in schools and the community has gathered two groups of fantastic young people aged from 10-19 ready to use the power of performance to make change and get involved in helping to build more positive communities.
Our project partners the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC), who have been an important part of the project so far, training our project leaders to better understand the journeys taken by asylum seekers to reach the UK and speaking with our groups to explain the role and importance of CRMC in the city.
The aim of the #iwill campaign is to make social action part of life for 10-20-year-olds. Bringing together hundreds of organisations from all sectors to embed meaningful social action into the lives of young people across the UK. Social action includes activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, all of which create a double-benefit – to communities and young people themselves.
Our project- Seen but Never Heard, is focussed on engaging our groups in the 70thanniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, as a way to explore and understand what human rights are, the role they play in making better communities and what it looks like when human rights are challenged or ignored.
We are nearly at the end of phase one of the project which has been an opportunity to discover, research and explore the project themes through movement, drama and debate…
Before we launch into the hard work of performance making in phase two, we checked in with the groups to get a better idea of how the project is changing their thoughts on human rights, here are some of their thoughts…
The project makes human rights a more relevant issue.
It is a very important project because it is something that we rarely notice- how many migrants and refugees have come to the city because of the problems they face.
It’s great that we are learning about human rights in a way that we can really understand and that feels important to us.
Human rights are important to talk about, because everyone has them but thinks about them differently. We don’t always think about our freedom to move, to go wherever we want to as a right, but not everyone has this freedom.
This project and the message it brings is one people need to hear. People in different parts of the world are living in situations where they have had their human rights taken away from them, that is happening now, and people need to be aware of this.
I’ve started to think a lot more about human rights and see more situations where human rights are being abused or challenged all around me.
Not many people realise that rights are being disregarded and to have a chance to think about this and how we might play a part in doing something about this, is enlightening.
I knew what was going on in the world, but I didn’t realise that it takes the simple everyday human rights away from people… Like the right to have an opinion or to just be yourself, however you want to be.
This has really taught me about human rights. I knew what they were, but I didn’t know how much they were always being broken. I’m really excited to have the chance to share what we’ve been exploring in a performance, to share the ideas and messages to other people.
Before this project I didn’t think about my opinion on human rights. The project has made me more able to express myself and develop my own views about things.
The topic brings has made me think about how many people struggle just to have somewhere safe to live. This is not something that gets spoken about to young people very much and you don’t really get to hear about it in detail. Everyone should have the right to live in a safe environment.
I don’t think I thought about human rights at all before. The project has given me the opportunity to be more aware of what is happening around me and what part I play in respecting people’s human rights.
This project is really good for young people like me. It gives us a space to express our opinion about the things that are happening around us that we don’t agree with.
It’s a big realisation of how much of the world don’t get what we have, and human rights is such a big thing, but the rights are so easily broken, and it seems like not everyone cares when this is happening. This is our chance to do something about that.
We feel so lucky to have this opportunity to work with this group of young people in this way. We have been so impressed with the incredible sensitivity and interest that the groups have shown to the project so far and very much look forward to moving into the performance making phase of the project in May.
For more information about the project or if you want to get involved visit:
Seen but Never Heard
Or come and see the final performances:
As part of Coventry Welcomes Festival during National Refugee Week in Coventry on Saturday 22nd June
As part of the Physical Fellowship at the Belgrade, Coventry Monday 24th to Thursday 27th June.