Journey to Justice taster in Sunderland
Thursday January 28th 2016 at The Bonded Warehouse, Low Street
Over 40 people from across Sunderland gathered in the chilly Bonded Warehouse to find out about Journey to Justice and discuss bringing our travelling exhibition programme to their city. They came from organisations including Young Asian Voices, Sunderland Carers, the LGBT forum, Disability Access, Housing and Homelessness, Sunderland College and schools as well as four members of the Newcastle JtoJ group including our new North East co-ordinator Katie McSherry.
The taster day was organised with our main partners from Sunderland University – Dr. Rick Bowler, Senior Lecturer in Community and Youth Work and Justine Gillespie, Head of HR Business Support and a member of the Diversity and Equality Committee. They welcomed JtoJ and talked about how our work complements their focus on creating a fair and inclusive community and society.
The room warmed up as we heard from Rev. Chris Howson Chaplain of Sunderland University about Sunderland’s radical history and some of its sons and daughters who were devoted to social justice – John Lilburne, leader of the Levellers, WW1 conscientious objectors including Norman Gaudie the footballer, suffragettes and abolitionists such as Anne Isabella Byron and James Field Stanfield.
We showed films about our Newcastle and Leyton pilots and Parul Motin inspired us with a description of her work with young people and the impact on their attitudes and choices.
Keith Hodgson, retired UNISON Regional Education Officer talked about local campaigns and support for the rights of women workers, carers and miners and he asked us, What makes an activist? Then Amer Sheikh, Chemistry teacher and rapper told us about THE WORD – a project he created with young people to challenge racism and prejudice. The day ended with an animated discussion about local priorities and the possible role of JtoJ. One participant said, ‘I’ve not felt passion for years as I felt here in this room!’ There was overwhelming support for bringing the exhibition to Sunderland.
Issues covered ranged from disability rights; access to learning and housing; Sunderland’s rich cultural stories, the need to hear more voices and to humanize everyone; devastating cuts to organisations which support the most vulnerable people; the ‘mental torture’ of asylum seekers as a result of punitive processes; demonization of activists and the need for intergenerational work.
Evaluations: Brilliant organisation and cause; it proves that we can change the world in funny way (like songs); there is so much that could be achieved for and by the people of Sunderland; lots of inspirational stories and people; I got my passion back as to why I work in engagement; it helps the youth to have confidence in themselves; it was well presented, informative and thought-provoking.
‘Journey to Justice could be an excellent vehicle to tackle inequalities and injustice in the region.’
And the next day we received this message from one of the participants:
‘As a result of the Journey to Justice taster, we have begun talking about what we’re doing today to confront injustice, other than just talk about it or act as individuals. One of the issues where we might act is finding homes for unaccompanied refugee children or possibly families. We have no idea which agencies might eventually co-ordinate such action and I wondered if you might know.’
We’re meeting with those who signed up to be part of a steering group to bring the JtoJ exhibition programme to Sunderland. We’ll begin planning – venues, funding, dates, partners and events…If you would like to get involved with JtoJ Sunderland email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 07711199198