Voices of the New Belfast at Stormont #CRWeek15


A Kirsten Kearney J September 21, 2015
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PRESS RELEASE

Voices of the New Belfast is an exciting documentary film project capturing real stories and experiences of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds on camera.

Created by award-winning Belfast film-making charity, ESC, (www.esc-film.com) the project drew from individuals across Belfast who would identify with the BME community, the Roma community, the Chinese, Polish and Eastern European communities, and those who do not identify with a particular community at all. Each was given the chance to tell their story.

The films bring up difficult issues and challenging questions around identity, racism and stereotypes, human trafficking, culture and the space for different cultures, Islam, atheism, religion and the troubled concept of home.

The project, supported by Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Department and the Community Relations Council, worked in partnership with East Belfast’s Globe Café and South Belfast’s Belfast Friendship Club and film-makers Stuart Sloan, Jonny Agnew and Gerard Stewart.

On Monday 28th September at 6pm, a special film screening at Stormont’s Long Gallery will kick off 2015’s Community Relations and Cultural Awareness week in style with professional portrait photography from Grzegorz Gabrys, whose wife Edyta features in the film, and music by Contemporary music composer and sound designer Przemek Straus who has just finished an MA in Sonic Arts at QUB. Both are ‘incomers’ to Belfast.

Sponsored and masterminded by East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle, the event has already attracted interest from the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Guy Spence as well as the Chair of the Community Relations Council, Peter Osborne, who will be speaking at the event.

The long-awaited Racial Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland (2014 – 2024) aims to establish a framework for Government departments (and others) to tackle racial inequalities, to eradicate racism and hate crime and along with Together: Building a United Community, to promote good race relations and social cohesion. This project reveals the work that is happening on the ground at grass-roots level among impassioned individuals in our communities, that is delivering real social change.

One of those individuals is Globe Café founder Jenny Smithson, who was one of the inspirations behind this film project.

She explains:
“Globe Café has been operating in East Belfast now for just over a year and we’ve been involved in helping to tell the stories of some of the foreign nationals who have chosen to come to Belfast to work or study. Given the recent surge in race hate crimes in this part of the city and some of the negative publicity around foreign nationals in our society, we believe this positive work is much needed. It will provide an invaluable opportunity for those who participate in the programme to make their voices heard and to gain confidence as they help others understand their stories. This may be, for some, a significant step in developing their sense of ‘belonging’ here in Belfast.”

If you can’t make it, you can watch all the films and join the discussions at www.voicesofthenewbelfast.org

Free tickets are still available for the screening at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/voices-of-the-new-belfast-film-screening-at-stormont-tickets-17319530181

This project, delivered by the award-winning Belfast film charity, ESC (www.esc-film.com) is funded by Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Department and the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant and Diversity Grant.

False Freedom launches at Stormont


A Kirsten Kearney J May 28, 2015
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ESC is very proud to announce the launch of our latest film and educational resource, False Freedom; a new DVD highlighting the issues around child sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland, aimed at raising awareness around the dangers for children and young people over the age of twelve.

The DVD entitled ‘False Freedom’ was created by young people who volunteered through Barnardo’s NI Safe Choices service which supports young people vulnerable to sexual exploitation. The young people wrote and acted in the film which shows how grooming for exploitation can be played out in real life and depicts a young girl who finds herself in an exploitative relationship.

ESC facilitated the project, working hand in hand with Barnardo’s NI and volunteers at the Corrymeela Community in Ballycastle, to work with the young people over a five day residential to make the film. The aim of the DVD and the accompanying resource pack is to alert young people to the dangers around sexual exploitation and generate discussion about the issues with the aim of empowering young people to make safe choices for themselves.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.53.59

Watch the film here.

Sarah, who took part in the making of the film said: “It was really important to me to help make other young people aware of how easily they can get caught up in a situation where they are being exploited. What can start out looking like fun can escalate to the point where you can feel out of your depth, trapped and scared. I just hope this film will raise awareness and stop other young people experiencing the same thing.”

Helen McKenzie from the Safeguarding Board NI said: “False Freedom is a powerful film which we hope will raise awareness of sexual exploitation and help keep children and young people safe from those who would want to groom and exploit them. Because it has been developed by young people from Northern Ireland who have experienced this form of abuse it is hard hitting and realistic and will resonate with other young people who might think it is something that doesn’t happen here. We are very grateful to the young people who volunteered to help produce the film and who also acted in it they have helped produce something that will have a positive impact and help protect other young people.”

The DVD was funded by the Public Health Agency as part of the CSE Knowledge Transfer Partnership NI and the resource pack is jointly funded by the Safeguarding Board NI, PSNI and St James Place Foundation.

The DVD and resource pack is free of charge and can be used in any setting from schools to youth clubs and is available from Barnardo’s NI. For further information contact: Jacqui.montgomery@barnardos.org.uk

 

Voices of the New Belfast


A Kirsten Kearney J March 24, 2015
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voices-of-the-new-belfast-logoThe Community Relations Council has welcomed a series of short films being screened from today. Voices of the New Belfast is an exciting documentary film project centred on individuals from the new communities who have come to Belfast since 1998. It captures real stories and explores the experiences of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds on camera.

Created by award-winning Belfast film-making charity, ESC, (www.esc-film.com) the project drew from individuals across Belfast who would identify with the BME community, the Roma community, the Chinese, Polish and Eastern European communities, and those who do not identify with a particular community at all. Each was given the chance to tell their story.

The films bring up difficult issues and challenging questions around identity, racism and stereotypes, human trafficking, culture and the space for different cultures, Islam, atheism, religion and the troubled concept of home.

The project, supported by the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant and Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Department, worked in partnership with East Belfast’s Globe Café and South Belfast’s Belfast Friendship Club and film-makers Stuart Sloan, Jonny Agnew and Gerard Stewart. The films launch this week and after the premieres you can watch the films and join the discussion forums at www.voicesofthenewbelfast.org

Deirdre McBride CRC photoDeirdre Mac Bride, CRC Cultural Diversity Director, said:

“ Voices of the New Belfast  provides positive empowering stories of real individuals from a wide range of different cultural backgrounds and nationalities who have immigrated to Northern Ireland.  The films reflect their experiences of living in Belfast, their opinions of current efforts to reduce racism, and their hopes and fears for the future. It is essentially their stories told in their way. CRC hopes that the films will increase understanding among wider society of the effects of racism and other prejudices. We would encourage everyone to see the films.”

Jenny Smithson VONB picGlobe Café founder Jenny Smithson was one of the inspirations behind the project:

“Globe Café has been operating in East Belfast now for just over a year and we’ve been involved in helping to tell the stories of some of the foreign nationals who have chosen to come to Belfast to work or study.  Given the recent surge in race hate crimes in this part of the city and some of the negative publicity around foreign nationals in our society, we believe this positive work is much needed.  It will provide an invaluable opportunity for those who participate in the programme to make their voices heard and to gain confidence as they help others understand their stories.  This may be, for some, a significant step in developing their sense of ‘belonging’ here in Belfast.”

You can watch all the films and join the discussions at www.voicesofthenewbelfast.org

 

Deirdre McBride CRC and ESC teamThanks to the film-making team of (L – R) Gerard Stewart, Stuart Sloan and Jonny Agnew. Flanked by Deirdre McBride (CRC) and Kirsten Kearney (ESC CEO). Project facilitation by ESC’s Artistic Director Tom Magill.

Many thanks to Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Department and the Community Relations Council.

CRC high res logo

 

BCC%20LOGO_web

Double Film Premiere Success


A Kirsten Kearney J October 16, 2014
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ESC’s Film Premieres on Monday of this week were a huge success with the Black Box in Belfast packed out with audience members from all over Northern Ireland and even Canada!

Like Minds pic I thinkThe morning saw the ESC / MindWise collaboration ‘All our Stories’ which focused on the experiences of a group of men with mental ill health who participate in therapeutic and supportive work at MindWise’s Belfast Resource Centre. The films were challenging, encompassing solvent abuse, schizophrenia, unrequited love and the difficulties of the recovery journey. We are very grateful to Awards for All for their support for this project.

Some audience feedback:
“Great insight into the taboo subject of mental health. The actors were very brave & inspired to tell their stories”
“The stories were incredibly powerful and and moving. They broadened the spectrum of creativity and challenged our perspectives.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 13.23.39The afternoon saw the celebration of four years of work at Holywell hospital with the Community and Forensic Mental Health Team on ESC’s flagship project Second Chance for Change: Including the Excluded.

ESC were proud to welcome some of the participants in the project to the stage to take part in a post-screening Q&A, touching on issues of domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and institutional child sexual abuse and the future of the ‘asylum’ in today’s culture and political climate.

If you missed the launches the films are nearly all up online! Click here.

SONY DSCThe film launches were the culmination of two projects and part of the final day of the Northern Ireland Mental Health Festival. We would like to thank all the festival organisers, the participants in our projects, MindWise, Holywell hospital staff, Esmee Fairbairn and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust for all their support. A big thank you too to the ESC Team and our associates, Karen Kinghan, Ben Price, Michael MacBroom, Will McConnell and Stuart Sloan. Great work everyone!

FILM PREMIERE INVITE – Mon 13 Oct at 13.30


A Kirsten Kearney J October 9, 2014
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Second Chance Yr4 e-Invite frontSECOND CHANCE FOR CHANGE: INCLUDING THE EXCLUDED

Come and experience ESC’s groundbreaking storytelling and film work. Service users at Holywell hospital, who are in the overlap between criminal justice and mental health, committed to telling their traumatic stories on film. Through this creative process they found catharsis and healing.

The films are incredible and the work has been transformative. Come and share in their journey of recovery. We’ll be screening the films with behind the scenes documentary and hosting a post show Q&A with tea and cakes.

Email us to reserve your place. It’s free but donations are welcome on the day to help towards next year’s project.

We’re proud of be part of the NI Mental Health Arts & Film Festival.

WHERE: The Black Box, 18-22 Hill Street, Belfast

WHEN: Monday 13th October, 1.30pm

RSVP: info@esc-film.com or phone 028 90 243 338

Mickey B tours the US


A Kirsten Kearney J November 4, 2013
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Mickey B is touring the US!!
Here’s the schedule:

November 13 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Hope College, Holland, Michigan

November 14 – Visit Shakespeare Behind Bars programme in Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Complex, Muskegon Heights, Michigan

November 14 – Keynote Speaker at Physicians Dinner Holland, Michigan

November 15-16 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Prison Arts Practitioner Conference at University of Notre Dame South Bend, Indiana – more info

November 19 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Emory University Atlanta, Georgia

November 20 – Visit classes at Emory University Atlanta, Georgia

November 21 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Oxford College, Oxford, Georgia

November 22 – Visit Lee Arrendale State Prison Alto, Georgia

November 23 – Visit Shakespeare Behind Bars program at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex LaGrange, Kentucky

November 25-26 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Oakland University Oakland, Michigan

 

ESC spearheads NI’s first Mental Health Arts & Film Festival


A Kirsten Kearney J March 28, 2013
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ESC is to the fore in new developments in mental health in NI – NI’s first Mental Health Arts & Film Festival can happen, if you get involved!

Check out the FB page, like it and come to the first meeting on Tuesday 23rd April at 11am at QUB. There’s no commitment, we’re just trying to see who is out there and who would like to get involved. Here’s the official invite…

Dear all, you are most welcome to come along to the first meeting of the organising committee for a Mental health film festival in Northern Ireland. (did you know that NI is the only part of the UK and Ireland that doesn’t yet have one?)

The meeting will be chaired by Kirsten Kearney from ESC and will be in the meeting room in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s on Tuesday 23rd April at 11am.

For people who haven’t been here before it’s the terrace of houses across the car park at the back of the main Queen’s building (the new library is along the other side of the car park) and the entrance is at the library end of the terrace.

If you are able to attend and are driving, you can send Gavin Davidson (Lecturer in Sociology at QUB) your car registration number and he can request a parking permit for you for the big car park beside the School. (email below)

This is the first meeting and attending doesn’t commit you to anything but please do come if you are interested. Please also spread the word. The more the merrier!

RSVP either on Facebook or email to Gavin Davidson, Lecturer in Sociology, g.davidson@qub.ac.uk

NEW! – Crime & Punishment Course at Helping Hands


A Kirsten Kearney J March 25, 2013
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In ESC we believe in thinking our ways round a problem until we come up with solutions. One lady helping us to do that is Karen Tilson, who is volunteering to run a new course in our Helping Hands centre.

10 weekly sessions on Wednesdays 17.30 pm to 19.30 pm, starting Wed 17th April.

This course will examine Old Bailey records to show how crime and punishment has changed over time. We will look at the historical, political and religious influences on how crime was dealt with. We will assess forms of punishment – transportation, death penalty, workhouse, ASBOS, restorative justice.

And we will ask questions such as: Should life imprisonment mean life? What is the purpose of prison – punishment or rehabilitation? Does prison work?

Email us at info@esc-film.com to book your place.

Here’s what Karen has to say:

I have worked in the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service for over 20 years. I have always been an avid reader of crime novels and have always been interested in crime dramas and real life crime stories. I left school with O Levels. A Levels were a disaster! Once I started work I continued studying at night classes and gained 2 A Levels and some additional secretarial qualifications. I then completed a degree in Law/Social Sciences with the Open University. As part of my studies I undertook a module on Criminology and this sparked my interest in the subject. It combines aspects of law and examines why people commit crime from a sociological perspective and this really fascinates me. For various reasons, including economic ones, I decided against training to be a solicitor. I felt that this was not the way I should go. I did not think this would be satisfying career path for me. Instead I continued studying with the Open University and gained an MA in Social Policy and Criminology. For some time now I have been looking at ways of getting involved in working with offenders.

For health reasons I had a 2 year break from NICTS and whilst temping I had the opportunity to complete a Certificate in Adult Learner Support and for a while I volunteered in an Adult literacy class. During this time I also became involved in leading a youth group and I discovered a love of teaching and a passion for helping others. Teaching as a career path was something I had always avoided as there are lots of teachers in my family. I had always said I wanted to do something different but perhaps teaching is in my genes.

I have an interest in rehabilitation of offenders and in the connection between literacy and offending/re-offending. I firmly believe that education is one of the key factors in reducing re-offending. My other areas of interest are in restorative justice and in how crime is reported by the media.

My motivation for wanting to work this area is that I have a strong sense of wanting to make a difference in the lives of people who come in contact with the criminal justice system. I feel that when sentences are handed down there is a general belief among the wider public that justice has been seen to be done and this is all that is required. However, I do not agree with this notion. There must be more to it than that. There are of course no simple solutions to the issues in society but we cannot allow people to come out of prison the same way they went in otherwise there is a likelihood that they will just end up re-offending.

I hope that by looking at the issues surrounding crime and punishment that students will gain a better understanding of the historical influences on crime and be able to critically assess the purpose of prison and other forms of punishment.

 

 

Profile: Sam H.


A Katie Dwyer J March 12, 2013
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“My motivation is to help people.  I was in prison for 26 years, and no one helped me.”

Sam is one of the main coordinators for Helping Hands.  He first participated in ESC programs in the Maze prison in 2003, when Tom Magill led a drama group for prisoners.  He took part in the production of Mickey B, and has been involved in multiple programs and film projects through ESC since then.

Sam was released from prison in 2009, and since then has been a full time volunteer with Helping Hands, where he coordinates programs and works to provide a welcoming presence for anyone who walks in the door and needs help.  “Lots of people come to us when they won’t go to government agencies, because we have walked that path when others haven’t.  They know they can come to us, and they can tell us anything and we’ll understand.”

Sam’s major motivation in working with Helping Hands is the satisfaction that he feels in seeing even one person turn their life around.  Sam has helped several people to find housing and supportive social workers, and has worked with young people to help re-direct them away from anti-social behavior.

Sam says, “It gives you pride in what you do.  You spend so many years having people tell you you’re worthless, and now we can do this and prove them wrong.  Because now I’m here to help people, to use my life experience to help people.  I’m qualified to give advice because I’ve been there.”

In addition to running programs through Helping Hands, Sam is also a participant in projects.  His current favorite is the Reader’s Organization, and he hopes to someday become qualified to lead these groups in reading discussions and healthy debate, stretching the mind and encouraging an understanding of how other people experience the world.