There are hundreds of people in Birmingham who aren’t as lucky as us to have a home to go to tonight. Instead, they will be in hostels, squatting or on the streets with little access to food. Let’s Feed Brum.
A simple aspiration. For Woodcraft Folk Venturers, a group of of ten to twenty young people aged thirteen to sixteen in Kings Heath, it’s the most important issue they wanted to address right now. How can we help?
Two of the group already volunteer to work directly in the soup kitchen, but young people, like all of us, can feel unheard and powerless to change things. We decided to raise the issue in one of few public forums still open to young people – in our parks and streets.
Back in July Woodcraft Folk had support from graffiti artist Panda and The Active Wellbeing Society. It was shortly after the death of George Floyd and we decided to spray in temporary chalk marker, ‘Black Lives Matter’, on a path in Pebble Mill Playing Fields. Over the course of the next two weeks the message was blacked out, re-written, an ‘anti-Black Lives Matter’ message written over it, then ‘Black Lives Matter’ re-written. By adding our voice on the path we had started a conversation. Even as we were writing the message most passersby showed their approval, and one came over and asked, ‘What about Slavic Lives?’
The next time we could meet was in September in the Little Dessert Shop on the High Street which at the time was still open to us. That’s when we decided we wanted to run a longer campaign for ‘Let’s Feed Brum‘ on our streets.
We didn’t want what we were doing to just be seen as ‘vandalism’, chose visible locations and use lessons learned both from our first experiment in graffiti and from ‘craftivism’ we had been involved in before. We noticed lamp posts that had places to hang things from (we found out they were to rest ladders on for lamp post maintenance). These were ideal locations to hang flags from. We also chose Kings Heath Park as a prominent location to share our message on the paths.
People approached us (socially distanced), curious about what two groups of young people were doing with a ladder and spray cans on a Thursday evening. Throughout the activity both adults and young people questioned if we should be doing what we were doing, but as we met people living on Avenue Road and Grange Road we were encouraged by the responses by everyone we met.
Young people have been limited, perhaps more than any other age group, in what they can do in public or together, and have less opportunity to having their voices heard throughout a Pandemic which increasingly they feel like they are being blamed for. Our young people still have an important voice and contribution to make to our community, sometimes the ‘adult’ thing to do is listen, support people who are working to make changes and act.