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4 residents learn how to tell their Big Local story

Two new films, an Instagram project and hundreds of copies of an information booklet are now being shared by the proud Big Local residents who created them. They are the results of months of hard work by 4 residents who took part in a pilot project to support residents to tell a story they cared about through a medium of their choice.

After the successful pilot, this has become an exciting new Voices of Big Local support offer, created by Local Trust with our partners Hamlett Films, which is now open to new applicants.

Speaking to the 4 residents about their experiences during the pilot revealed the value of this support as a way to learn new skills and discover the power of stories to reach and engage a wider audience.

I’m very interested in storytelling, but I needed a platform to share others’ experiences.”

Dadirai Tsopo

Motivations behind taking part

All of the residents involved in the pilot were also taking part in one of the Big Local learning clusters. This not only made them eligible for the storytelling project but also meant they had a strong motive to share an important issue affecting their Big Local area.

Each of the residents knew what they wanted to say but weren’t sure how to tell it, and this is where the training and one-to-one mentoring from Hamlett Films proved valuable. With this project, residents can choose any storytelling medium that suits them, whether that’s film, photography, podcast or something else – and receive full support and mentoring from Hamlett Films to make it happen.

Suzanne Halliwell said that it’s not something she had done before so she thought she would just go for it. “I didn’t know what to expect. I liked the idea of being able to tell a story in a format I was comfortable with”.

Four very different stories

The 4 residents’ projects demonstrate the purpose and impact of the learning clusters in developing residents’ skills, confidence and bringing communities together to create change.

Housing issues in a coastal town
Bill Chatt, chair of Barrowcliff Big Local, made a film about the illegal practices of landlords in the coastal town of Scarborough and explores selective licensing as a potential solution. Bill’s film drew on what he was learning in the Coastal Communities learning cluster, where empty or neglected housing stock and seasonal employment are widespread concerns that leave tenants vulnerable to exploitation.

“When I saw the film for the first time, I thought ‘I’m proud of it’. I will show it to housing agencies and councils across North Yorkshire and show how you can improve privately rented accommodation through selective licensing”.

The search for a community space
Suzanne Halliwell, the worker from Whitley Bay Local, made her film about her Big Local area’s journey to secure a community space and provide affordable housing. Suzanne took part in the Housing and Better Homes learning cluster and chose to tell her story because of the prevailing housing conditions. “We’re still trying to purchase the community building, that’s an ongoing journey, the commitment to do it is still big,” said Suzanne. “We have good social media attraction, so we will use the film on there, and try and screen it in the local cinema. We will also launch it at our new building.”

Instagram project
Becky Doran, the worker from Blackpool Revoe Big Local, created an Instagram page to tell the story of Revoe residents through images and captions. Becky takes inspiration from Humans of New York but makes it more local to her area – People of Revoe. Like Bill, Becky was part of the Coastal Communities learning cluster and was inspired to address the divisions she saw between people who were long established residents of the town, and others who were more transient. She hopes for her page to be a “visual map for people of Revoe, make people feel more connected, and humanize people through images.”

Taking photographs for an Instagram project in Blackpool

Housing repair scandal
Dadirai Tsopo, chair of Welsh House Farm Big Local, created a booklet about the poor experiences of residents seeking house repairs from Birmingham City Council. Dadirai was involved in the Housing and Better Homes learning cluster and wanted to highlight the housing issues facing residents on her estate, who lacked information and felt they were left alone to cope with problems.

Her booklet Housing Repairs? was printed at the end of the project and distributed to local homes. She hopes her booklet starts a dialogue in how councils can respond to repairs and how residents can access repairs.

What’s next?

Not only are the residents going to share their films, booklet and Instagram page with their local community, they are also determined to use their hard work to improve their areas.

All four residents has distinctive and personal stories to tell, and with the help of Hamlett Films created compelling projects that effectively capture and share the concerns of their communities and their strong feelings for their local areas.  What really stood out when speaking to the residents was the passion in their voices when talking about their projects and the issues they tackle which are so close to their hearts and that of their community.

“I am really happy with the results and I think it’s given me the confidence to do it again on my own at a future point.”-Suzanne Halliwell

To find out more about how Hamlett Films could support your Big Local, check out these FAQs on our Hamlett Films support offer page