Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dissing the North East?

We have received some adverse comment about the children's photographs depicting poverty in the North East. A few people think they display a negative image of the North East.

This rather misses the point. The pictures were taken by children and young people to illustrate their experiences of their lives and where they live. The fact there are no pictures that tell of the great cities, history, sport and culture of the North East and very few of the beautiful countryside and coastline, demonstrates how excluded the children and young people are from all those things. Poverty excludes you from the expeiences and opportunities that everyone seems to take for granted, it makes you feel those things are not for you.

On 23rd November, the night before our child poverty conference, the BBC hosted a viewing of the documentary 'Poor Kids' before an invited audience at the Tyneside Cinema. The film interviews and shows the lives of 3 children living in Leicester, Bradford and Glasgow. The issues shown are exactly the same as those we found among children and young people all over the North East.

Another comment about the photographs was posted on our website and said, 'Reminds me of my childhood in the 70s in the East Midlands. You would have hoped things would have got better.'

Far from the photographs being isolated and negative portayals of the North East, they probably reflect the everyday experiences of poor children and young people in all parts of the country. They remind me of houses, places and experiences of children and young people I have worked with in London and the North East for 36 years. What poverty looks like does not seem to change much.

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