As part of a storytelling project with Hamlett Films, Hackney Wick resident Polly Mann has been capturing the voices of local people during lockdown. Here, she tells us about why this multi-media project has been important way for the community to connect.
I first met Hamlett Films at a Big Local event on social isolation a year ago. I was interested to get involved in a project with them as I’m interested in storytelling but am aware that we don’t always share the voices of local people in Hackney Wick Big Local very effectively. Perhaps this was because we always seem to be too busy getting the work done or because we lacked the technical skills or confidence.
At the beginning of 2020 we had an awareness that we were on the cusp of an interesting and challenging time and thought this would be an ideal moment to share stories and experiences of Hackney Wick residents and help people to connect with each other.
We thought it would be an interesting opportunity for residents to share their different viewpoints of the Big Local area.”
Wick Award had just completed a project which engaged with older residents in our area to understand the experience of loneliness and social isolation. This meant we were already in communication with many of the people who went into isolation in March and were mindful of including their voices and experiences in our work.
The impact of COVID-19 dominated everybody’s experience of last year. Many Hackney Wick residents were confined to their homes with their only view of the outside world being the one from their windows or balcony. We thought this would be an interesting opportunity for residents to share these different viewpoints of the Big Local area.
We interviewed four adults and a group of young people about their experience of the year throughout 2020. We were particularly interested in sharing residents’ stories who might have felt overlooked at this time.
The project comprises three blogs, one short film and one podcast episode in total;
the three Balcony Blogs explore the lockdown experience of three of our older residents
the short film hears from young people at the Wickers Youth Club about their experiences of lockdown and how they feel about returning to school
and the podcast meets Hackney Wick ward councillor Chris Kennedy.
The experience of taking part in the project was very positive. We worked with our mentor, Elin from Hamlett Films. The mentoring moved with our needs and constraints and support with the technology was offered very sensitively and patiently. Elin encouraged us to try out different ways of story-telling and taught us practical skills to support this as well as encouraging us to take our own approach to the project.
We’ve now decided to share a Hackney Wick story every month to build community connections.”
At a time when it is hard to meet up and chat about what’s going on, it’s important to find alternative ways to share our stories. 2020 feels quite epic and making these outputs has been a way to archive this strange period.
I would really recommend this opportunity to other Big Local areas. The work entailed is not demanding and is likely to enhance your community’s aims. It could also help you find your own way towards tackling a project or target that you’ve always meant to do but have put off because it seems too daunting.
The project showed us that it is easy to get into the habit of storytelling and as a result, we’ve decided to share a Hackney Wick story every month. Doing this supports a key Wick Award priority – to build community connections – and is an easy and enjoyable way of demonstrating how we are doing it.