Young Voices: Liverpool PEN performance
An arresting start to the proceedings was provided by the Seasons Playhouse in Liverpool, ‘Young Voices’. Part of the Poverty Ends Now (PEN) initiative, the actors spoke brief monologues, based on interviews with 140 young people from Merseyside. These graphically illustrated not only the shifts to which ‘proper, proper poverty’ drives people, but the shame, the despair and the anger it produces in those who suffer it:
…of the young man who couldn’t always afford his bus fare to school, so he sneaks on to the bus. ‘Sometimes, I get away with it, but sometimes I get caught.’ He speaks of the look the other passengers give him ‘thinking the absolute worst of you’,
… of the young girl whose parents can’t afford to replace her school clothes: ‘by January, it’s easy to tell who’s struggling…..shoes falling apart…’ and the taunting that results: ‘Kids can be cruel.’
…of the young man whose friend often sleeps at his house because his own is damp and he’s forced to share a room hardly big enough for two with his three brothers. When he tells this friend he can’t sleep at his house for some reason, ‘the look he gives me is scarring.’
….of another who talks about the almost complete absence of any human bond in an area he has lived in all his life: ‘Nobody trusts anyone….in 2015, I still feel unsafe in my community.’
The Liverpool group are part of a wider project that brought together a group of young people from around the UK to create an anti poverty manifesto in their own words. The group showcased their manifesto in Parliament in 2014.
Further information about the PEN project can be found here.
The full six-point PEN manifesto can be downloaded here.