Dagenham youth group explores FGM in short films

Raised Voices 'There is Hope' film was screened on September 29 at Kingsley Hall in Dagenham.

Raised Voices 'There is Hope' film was screened on September 29 at Kingsley Hall in Dagenham. - Credit: Archant

Hope was at the core of a taboo-busting series of short films created by and for young women.

Mayor of Barking and Dagenham Cllr Eileen Keller presents Raised Voices member Meliz Gozenler with a

Mayor of Barking and Dagenham Cllr Eileen Keller presents Raised Voices member Meliz Gozenler with a Jack Petchey award. - Credit: Archant

“We are raising our voices, we want to be heard,” chanted the 12 to 18-year-old members of Raised Voices as they showcased the culmination of their year’s work in Dagenham last night.

The youth group – run by Arc Theatre as a female leadership and peer mentoring project – left no topic untouched in their films as they explored everything from transgender experience to forced marriage and FGM. Every one of the 11 shorts was devised, created and performed by a total of 50 students from different schools in the borough.

Arc theatre education director Natalie Smith told the Post she was “so proud” of their achievements.

“They really deserved this night, they’ve worked so hard and they should be celebrated in this way,” she said.


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“I’m so proud of them, but I’m always proud of them. There’s a lot of bad stuff in the world but this is one of the good things.”

Mayor of Barking and Dagenham Cllr Eileen Keller presented the 30-strong group with certificates and Jack Petchey awards following the packed screening in Kingsley Hall, Parsloes Avenue.

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“I feel inadequate after this,” she joked.

“They are doing a marvellous job. These things they talk about are great – I didn’t know about them when I was a youngster. It’s great that these girls are prepared and can go back and teach their peers. It’s just wonderful, I’m really pleased. Keep going – we’ll see what we can do.”

Students are now touring with the films – collectively entitled There is Hope – around schools and youth venues to convey their messages to a wider audience.

Borough commander Ch Supt Sean Wilson added: “I thought these guys were absolutely brilliant. These films get rid of taboos. The more we do things we can do like this the more we can teach communities.”

Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Barking & Dagenham Council (MOPAC), the group are now seeking further funding to continue their work.

To view the films and donate, go to raisedvoices.info or email nat@arctheatre.com.

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