19 Sep 2013

Discovering the heart of Hackney – Project lets young people tell the story

Image from the Hackney as Home project

Image from the Hackney as Home project

Five young people from Hackney, together with researchers from the Department of Geography at The Open University, have been capturing on film what it means to call Hackney home.

Senior Lecturer in Geography Melissa Butcher says the two-year project challenges stereotypes of the east London borough being all sink estates, riots or simply being famous for its Olympic redevelopment.

The project includes short stories drawn from across the borough, exploring growing up and moving out, cultural diversity, a history of style and the impact of gentrification.

Project director Dr Butcher says a key aim of Creating Hackney as Home is to enable young people to represent the area in the way they want to.

“We know that Hackney is one of the most diverse boroughs in London, and rapidly redeveloping because of its location near the City and the Olympic site. But what we don’t know is how young people feel about these changes and what it means for them to have a stake in Hackney.”

The young people have been actively involved in the project, getting to grips with learning research methods and film-making skills to allow them to be researchers in their own community. During the summer they have not only been filming, but photographing and documenting the space they call home, generating data that is designed to help local authorities take young people’s experiences and points of view into account.

‘Working with a team of other young people has allowed me to learn a lot about other people’s different experiences of Hackney and what it means to them”, said Shekeila, one of the peer researchers on the team.

The films mark the start of the second phase of the two-year study. They will be placed online to allow other young people, locally, nationally and internationally to add their comments and experiences of what it means to live in the complex spaces of 21st century cities.

The films will be screened on 24th September, from 6pm, at Hackney Picture House (270 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1HE), followed by a chance to discuss the project with the research team.

The Creating Hackney as Home project is a collaboration between the Department of Geography (Open University), and youth arts organisations Immediate Theatre and Mouth that Roars.

Creating Hackney as Home can be accessed at:

Notes to editors

Creating Hackney as Home is a two year project is funded by the ESRC

About The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has almost 250,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.
The OU is rated in the top five of UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, since the survey began in 2005. In 2012/13 it had a 92% satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) The Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which received 5.2million unique visitors in 2012/13, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded more than 60 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.

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