Friday 25th March was the Raising Voices Exhibition at Catalyst Building on Staffordshire University’s Campus. It was a full day for community members to visit the exhibition of photos, clay and postcards which raise the voices of people experiencing poverty in Stoke on Trent.

“We had an area set aside for people to listen to the Raising Voices Podcast along with displays featuring works of clay, postcards, poetry and reflections from a wellness session that was ran as part of the project. In the Adjoining room we had our recorded videos form the video booth set up by Expert Citizens on repeat with a very nice hot buffet ready for the launch presentation.” – Phil from Expert Citizens.

The images and art depicted the parallels between Stoke of the past and Stoke now, questioning how people living in poverty feel and sharing images of derelict buildings that could have a community purpose. The exhibition was joined by the Action on Poverty and Hardship degree student event looking at mental health and poverty, welcoming speakers Peter Bullimore and Teri Elder to talk about mental health and poverty. Peter is part of the National Paranoia Network and Teri has set up Walk Talk Action, supporting people’s mental health through walking.

“This was well attended with people from the University, the hardship commission, local councillors and a selection of people from the social sector. Speakers included myself, Nic Gratton, Stephen Wynne Williams and Kevin Hetherington with poems read out by members of the steering group. The event ended with the unveiling of the manifesto for change that was signed by the Hardship commission and the steering group. The feedback on the night was all positive and it felt like the groundwork had been laid for a lot more work in the future.” – Phil from Expert Citizens.

“Videos were playing all day with people giving their story of what hardship meant to them, poems about hardship were spoken and Phil gave an emotional speech about his story (even made Darren cry). – APLE Member Steve Porter.

If you’d like to know more about the Raising Voices Project-