Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A message from Tony Garnett

As you may know from my last post, I was recently fortunate enough (along with Alex 'Croydon' Quang) to meet Tony Garnett, the producer of the 1966 BBC television play Cathy Come Home.  I wanted to share the email conversation we had, in which he showed his support for Team v and called on young people like us to act now and make a difference.  Alex has organised an event in Croydon on Sunday 2nd December and has just announced that Tony Garnett is attending and will be interviewed live which is fantastic - if only Croydon wasn't so far from Derby I'd be there!  

I'm not very good at approaching people or asking for things so my first Team v campaign has definitely given me more confidence in doing so - in fact someone approached me about getting involved with a volunteering project today saying 'if you don't ask, you don't get' so it seems appropriate that I adopt that as my new Team v motto! As I said before I'm grateful to Alex for speaking up for both of us, it's great that someone of high profile like Tony Garnett is willing to take time to respond to mere volunteers like us and especially to travel across the country to attend a Team v event.  
At the end of the Team v programme I don't want to be thinking 'What if I'd...'.  I'd rather try and fail than not try at all.  Thanks to Tony Garnett, I feel a lot more prepared to try.  

My message to Tony Garnett 

Dear Tony, 

I attended the screening of Cathy Come Home at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts on 10th November and had the pleasure of meeting you briefly at the end of the talk to tell you about a campaign I am volunteering on alongside Alex Quang.  Supported by youth volunteering charity vInspired, we are part of Team v which is a network of over 100 volunteers aged 18-25 across England running 3 campaigns over 9 months.  

Our first campaign is raising awareness of youth homelessness.  We are encouraging people to sign Centrepoint's petition against housing benefit cuts for under 25 year olds, and speaking to young people about the organisations they can go to for support in our local area if they ever find themselves having problems with housing or at home.  My campaign in Derby will culminate on Saturday 1st December in an event/exhibition showcasing the stories and talents of young people who have been affected by youth homelessness, asking the public to look beyond the stereotype of homelessness and realise that it can happen to anyone.  We are running creative workshops with residents of YMCA Derbyshire and anything they produce - artwork, poetry, photography - will be at our exhibition at YMCA's Campus for Learning and Development.  

As part of this exhibition and our campaign I wondered whether you would be able to email me with a message of support for the campaign.  If you have time, it would be great if you could mention how/whether your view of homelessness in the UK changed when you were working on Cathy Come Home, and/or between 1966 and today.  I think you said that you had volunteered with Crisis at Christmas, so if you have spent any time working with young people (or any age, if not young people) affected by homelessness I would love to share this on our blog and at the exhibition.  I hope to encourage the general public to volunteer with organisations in Derby and nationally that support people who experience homelessness, so anything you wish to write about your own experience would help us to inspire others.   

I read Film with Television Studies at the University of Warwick, and we studied Cathy Come Home as a seminal piece of television history.  I remember speaking to my parents after I had seen it for the first time, and they both recalled how powerful it was when they and their parents saw it first broadcast in the 1960s.  Hearing you speak about the production was fascinating and the reaction of the audience at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts is testament to the fact that Cathy Come Home is as poignant and thought-provoking today as it was in 1966.  I am a strong believer in the power of the arts to create social debate, so it was truly inspiring to meet you having studied your work and heard about it from older generations of my family, and I appreciate the time you spent talking to us.    

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope to hear from you soon.  

Kind regards, 
Lucy Dean
Team v Derby City 


Tony Garnett's response to me 

Dear Lucy,

I have written a note, which appears below. If it is not what you want, please let me know, with some notes, and I will rewrite it.
I am much encouraged that there are young people like you who refuse to walk on the other side, but go out of their way to campaign for those who have nowhere decent to call home.
I wish you luck with your campaign. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to assist you.
Yes, I do some work for Crisis, like so many others. I know it is sticking plaster when what we need is surgery, but it helps at a personal level and raises consciousness. Please tell everyone about the good work Crisis, with other charities, does. It welcomes participation from all over the country. I am sure they will send you more information if you ask them.
Good luck with your event on the 1st.

Best Wishes,
Tony Garnett

" By now the 1966 film "Cathy Come Home" should be just a matter of historical interest. The contemporary buzz around it is a shameful reproach to us all. How can one of the richest countries in the world be so uncaring that is deprives so many of its citizens one of the basics of life? How can we allow whole families to live in damp, cold, rat and cockroach infested overcrowding, with no indoor toilet or bathroom, where the children have nowhere even to do their homework?
The situation depicted in 1966 shocked the nation. But nothing was done. The policy of succeeding governments, including all three main parties, has made the problem worse than it was in 1966. How could we have allowed that? Next year it will be worse still. Will we allow that? 
My generation, through indifference and selfishness, has failed its more vulnerable fellow citizens.
It is up to you, the younger generation, to put the matter right, so that we may genuinely be one nation.
I praise you for your compassion and wish you luck."


It's up to us

I am really grateful for Tony's passionate and honest response.  For me the words 'It is up to you, the younger generation, to put the matter right' sum up exactly what Team v is all about - a group of young people taking action on social issues because we care.  

I only hope we can make a start in putting the matter right, and encourage others to do the same.  

Homeless not Hopeless

The last time I made a poster was probably at least eight years ago, back in secondary school. vInspired gave us some great resources to work with though and I created this little number for our 'Homeless not Hopeless' exhibition at YMCA Derbyshire on Saturday 1st December.

This is a free event where anyone can drop in between 12.30pm and 3pm and see the canvas artwork created by young people - some have experienced homelessness, others have not.  We're showing that all young people have hopes and dreams, regardless of their circumstances, in the hope that we will challenge perceptions of homelessness and help young people to see the support available in our community if they are ever at risk of becoming homeless.  

Come to our exhibition and see for yourself - learn about youth homelessness and find out what you can do to make a difference.  Because together we can.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Cathy Come Home

Two weekends ago I hopped on a train to Birmingham University to attend a screening of Cathy Come Home at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts with Team v East Croydon leader Alex.  When our first campaign was announced at the Team v residential in October, we were given training by Shelter and the charity's representative mentioned the importance of Cathy Come Home in bringing about the creation of the national charity for single homeless people Crisis due to the unprecedented reaction from the public.  

The Power of the Play

Cathy Come Home is a television play first broadcast by the BBC in 1966.  Directed by Ken Loach and written by Jeremy Sandford, it tells the story of Cathy and Reg, a young couple who face endless housing problems when Reg is unable to work after an injury.  The documentary style and the use of true facts about the housing crisis in Britain opened the public's eyes to a problem many were unaware of. 

In my days as a Film with Television Studies student at the University of Warwick, we looked at Cathy Come Home as a seminal piece of television history.  As it was at least four years ago that I studied the television play, I jumped at this opportunity to view it again especially when I heard that the screening would be followed by a talk from the producer Tony Garnett.   

Ask the Producer 

Tony Garnett spoke passionately about the fact that the homelessness situation now is far worse than in the sixties, and suggested that if he wanted to produce Cathy Come Home today he would have great difficulty in getting past the first stage at the BBC.  When questions were opened up to the audience, most wanted to know about production of the play and one gentleman was desperate to discover the reason for naming the main character Cathy (there wasn't one).  Other questions concerned what the government should do to solve the housing crisis.  Alex and I were both itching to ask a question but struggling to find a way of mentioning our campaign within one, until a golden opportunity was presented by a fellow young person: 

"What can we, as young people, do to tackle homelessness... because we've been really affected by the play?"  

In the blink of an eye Alex' hand shot up and the professor guiding the talk realised he wanted to answer the question rather than ask his own.  Alex gave a fantastic 'elevator pitch' style answer to the whole lecture hall, explaining about Team v and how we're encouraging other young people to take action through our campaign. 

Tony Garnett responded saying "Well done and what a positive note for us to finish on."  In his own answer to the young lady's question he encouraged her to go and volunteer with charities that help the homeless, learn from that, and then tell people about it so they do the same - create an impetus.  

Spreading the word

When the talks finished we raced to the stage to try to speak to Tony Garnett.  On the way we stopped to tell the young lady who asked the question to search for Team v in Birmingham and look out for the stunts and events, as we knew there are a lot of Team v leaders based around the city.  I really hope they found it.  Two older ladies came to talk to us and wrote down the website so they could find out more, because they were so impressed by what Alex had said about what we were doing.  When we reached Tony Garnett he kindly gave us his email address and praised our efforts. 

I'm always being told how softly spoken I am so I have a massive fear about speaking in public, especially to a large audience in case they can't hear me, so I am enormously grateful to Alex for speaking up for both of us - and our fellow 100 Team v leaders.  Just by attending that event and Alex's courage in sticking his hand in the air we were able to spread the word about the many campaigns taking place across the country.  We spoke to the producer of one of the most important pieces of drama in television history and were given his blessing and encouragement for our campaign. 

If Alex and I hadn't made the trip from Croydon and Derby respectively, the fifty people in the audience may not have heard about Team v.  If Alex hadn't been there, maybe I wouldn't have had the guts to approach Tony Garnett by myself, and he would never have known about the group of young people taking action on a problem that affects over 75,000 of our peers every year.  

I suppose that's why it's called TEAM v. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

International Men's Day... it's not just for men!

This Saturday (17th November) Team v Derby City will be at the International Men's Day event at Pride Park in Derby.  

We'll be talking to people about youth homelessness and the various local organisations that provide advice and support to prevent young people from becoming homeless.  We'll also encourage people to sign Centrepoint's petition against housing benefit cuts for under 25 year olds, and share the various ways that you can help young people affected by homelessness - such as volunteering opportunities in Derby at local charities that support people who experience homelessness.  

The event is open to anyone (not just men!) and is completely free to attend.  There will be over 30 exhibitors and plenty going on to keep you entertained, including tours of the Rams dressing rooms!  More information on the event can be found here

We're really excited to be part of International Men's Day, it's set to be a fantastic event so please come along and say hello!  

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Team v and Lord Sugar's Young Apprentice

As I watched Young Apprentice on Thursday night I followed the reaction on Twitter which was overwhelmingly critical of everything the candidates did (or didn’t do) and said.  Of course the nature and style of the programme invites the audience to laugh at mistakes made and cringe at overly bold statements and I would be lying if I said I didn’t share those responses.  But as a fan of rose-tinted spectacles I always try to look on the bright side and see the good in people – call me naive but I think there’s enough miserableness (that’s a word, right?) and grumpy people in this world without me becoming one of them.    

My brother runs an awesome site that looks at Young Adult TV - any programmes/series made for, and about, teens.  He asked if I’d like to write about the first episode of Young Apprentice and I jumped at the chance of finally doing something related to my degree (Film with Television Studies) two years after graduating.  When I told him my piece was focused more on the overall concept and I was putting a positive spin on it he joked ‘really?!’ and basically wished me luck... 

I’ve met some incredible young people, especially the bunch I was lucky enough to be accepted onto the Team v programme with.  Bursting with energy and ideas for how they want to change the world, I’ve been amazed by how they’ve already made an impact in their communities in only a few weeks.  As one of the Team v leaders bordering on vInspired’s maximum age limit, seeing those up to six years younger than me take on this project alongside their college/uni/work commitments and do so with more confidence than I could dream of having even now, never mind at that age, has been inspiring.  

Organisations such as vInspired are vital in giving young people the tools to fulfil their ambitions and contribute to society in positive ways.  Just like Lord Sugar’s twelve candidates the 105 Team v leaders have been given an amazing opportunity to show what we’re made of.  We may not get £25,000 at the end of our programme, but I have no doubt that the skills, knowledge and confidence we develop will be priceless for the rest of our lives.  

You can read my attempt at an upbeat look at Young Apprentice here and check out the other brilliant posts on Young Adult TV while you’re there. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Lone Nut

At the Team v residential last weekend, which marked the start of our ‘leadership journey’, we were shown a Youtube video.

Take a few minutes to witness the ‘lone nut’, an ordinary guy who stands up in a crowd and makes himself noticed.  

The moral of the story?  ‘The first follower transforms the lone nut into a leader'.  If the first person hadn’t joined in with the crazy dancing, this guy would have remained a strange man doing a weird dance in a public place.   

Just as the lone nut required followers, Team v needs volunteers. 

Team v leaders all over England are looking for 16-25 year olds with a passion for social change to get involved and make our voices heard on important issues.  The first campaign has just kicked off and it’s all about raising awareness of youth homelessness, which affects over 75,000 young people in the UK each year. 

It doesn't matter how much time you can give or what skills/experience you have, we will support you.  Together, we can make a difference.

So come on, please, don’t let me be a lone nut! Sign up here 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Team v needs you!

Following the announcement of Team v’s first campaign, tackling youth homelessness , we have started recruiting volunteers to help us complete our mission! As a youth-led project, we want other young people to join us in running campaigns in our local communities, all over England. 

                                                    *   Are you 16 – 25?
                                                    *   Got some spare time?
                                                    *   Want to change the world?
                                                    *   Learn some new skills?
                                                    *   Be part of something special?  

Each team needs 3 to 5 core volunteers who will commit three hours a week in a specific area.  These roles include Event Co-ordinator, Marketing and PR Manager, Community Engagement Officer, and Director of Photography and Video.  If you have an interest in any of these areas, get in touch today! You don’t need any experience or qualifications, just a passion to get involved and make a difference in your community.  We also need general volunteers who can give any time they possibly can, even an hour! 

If you’re aged 16-25 and live in Derby, you can apply here: 

If you’re aged 16-25 and don’t live in Derby, don’t panic! You can find your nearest Team v here:       http://vinspired.com/teamv

 What are you waiting for? 
Join the Team v revolution and do something about youth homelessness.