Sunday, 15 July 2012

Handle with Care Review

Have you ever heard of Chatback Productions? Chatback is a group of fostered teenagers and foster carer’s birth children, aged between 11-16 years-old in Dudley, England. The group, after receiving funding, put together a feature length film called 'Handle With Care' in which they tucked messages about the truths of being in care that they felt everyone needed to hear. 

I approached Chatback to ask for a review copy of the film because I find the project idea amazing and incredible in so many ways, and I wondered how they would ever portray such important messages in an entertaining way. I was overjoyed to have my request accepted and watched the film as soon as it arrived, and I was blown away by the talent of these young people. 

If I am honest, I expected the film to be very powerful and quite depressing. However this is not the case, the film is a tight composition of heart warming and hard hitting emotion. It gets the message across loud and clear and opened my eyes to the issues that young people in foster care sometimes face. The film, shot in snowy February was filmed on location in Dudley and featured actress, Josie Lawrence. The film follows two teenagers- Emma and Danny. Danny lives with his foster carer, played by Josie Lawrence, and Emma lives with her alcoholic and abusive parents and brother. Through the screaming and abuse Emma creates herself an imaginary world of escapism inside a cardboard box with medieval dancing and singing. One day Danny notices that Emma hasn't been in school for a while and tries to enlist the help of their other friends to try and find out whats going on. They are all reluctant, but Danny doesn't give up. With dramatic and hard hitting scenes, this film is a must see. 

I found it simply unbelievable the talent of the young people and how professional the film was, considering the group; planned, researched, produced, scripted, acted, filmed and edited the film themselves. A stunning film, and I would like to thank Chatback Productions for sharing their work with me.  

To find out more about Chatback Productions and find out more about Handle With Care go to:

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Battered Paper Bullying.

I've talked about and shown this activity to a few different people but I have just been reminded about it on Facebook and thought I would give it a mention.

'Bullying' its such a common word these days, in schools it is as common as 'pass the salt' at a dinner table. Bullying this, bullying that- in and out of children's ears. How many times will your brother, sister, daughter or son have heard that word? Or even how many times have you heard it? Through exhaustive and ineffective coverage in schools children are sick of the word and still as unaware as ever.

Bullying is a repeated act of verbal, psychical or emotional abuse from one person or a group to another. It is not age related, you can be bullied at any stage in your life. It causes the victim to be fearful, lose confidence, can affect productiveness and damage self esteem. Bullying is like a real life game of cat and mouse.

The activity I'm referring to is a brilliant, educational and inspiring workshop regarding this relevant issue. Often once someone has been rendered wrong, and the other rendered right, outsiders can forget the long lasting effect on the victim. Bullying isn't black and white. The pain and upset that bullying can bring can leave scars long after the final harsh words have been thrown. One teacher told a class to scrunch up some paper, stamp on it, hurt it. This symbolises the bullying process. She then asked the group to unfold the piece of paper, it isn't perfect again. It is creased and crumpled, chances are it won't be the same ever again. This symbolises the aftermath of bullying, and all the hurt and memories which will always remain.

To add to this fabulous lesson idea I wrote on classic words that are typical of bullying. I then highlighted them. This to me shows the damage to self esteem, and how those comments will always stay with the person. I'd like to see more activities like this in the future, affective yet so simple. So instead of schools pointing the finger and thinking that that is all that needs to be done they could put in place support, keep parents in the loop and prevent the situation reigniting. Plus, its very well telling children and young people 'not to bully' but how about telling them at a young age 'how to be nice'? We all grow up in different environments, and like seeds in a pot this effects how we grow. If we grow up in an environment where social morals aren't as high and exposed to bad language or violence how will we know how to behave? I think we should go back to basics, classes in kindness and hard hitting awareness talks are the way forward.

If you are being bullied talk to someone you know and trust, or call childline on 0800 1111. Trust me, you are not alone.