Thursday, 17 August 2017

Being Heard

Each week during the Summer I'll be taking a topical news item as writing inspiration and going with the flow...

Week 3
Inspiration: Jon Snow recently asked, "Why didn't we enable the residents of Grenfell Tower... to find pathways to talk to us and for us to expose their story?" 

Snow was talking about the fact that media organisations had not reported that residents of Grenfell Tower were concerned about the risk of fire and that the council was not listening to them or taking any action. 

The Grenfell Action Group wrote about their concern many times. Reading the blogpost Playing With Fire now leaves me reeling. It was written in 2016. They were trying so hard to get their voices heard but noone was listening. 

Snow concludes, "our organic links within our own society are badly broken." He suggests the lack of diversity within the media is a major contributing factor. 

If he is right about our links being broken then holding a space for others to tell their stories and find the words they want to tell them is increasingly vital.  

This was a main motivating force for me when I set out to work as a practitioner in writing for health and wellbeing.

Perhaps my interest has something to do with my own shyness as a child. I experienced shyness as wanting so much to speak, knowing the words I wanted to say but being completely unable to utter them. This left me voiceless in certain situations. Adults outside the family were often not able to relate to this small, silent child.  They remarked on my quietness but didn't seem to know how to encourage me or to hold a space for me to speak.

It's different to the Grenfell residents who were speaking out and not being heard but similar in that a safe space to speak and to be listened to wasn't available to them. 

Attempts at being heard, finding a voice and strengthening identity can be crushed when a power imbalance exists and the powerful do not relate to the experiences of the less powerful.

This makes it essential there are opportunities for self expression across society, for held spaces to connect, to share our personal stories and to gain strength from this.  

Don't we all have the right to be known, heard and for our stories and concerns to be listened to?

Guardian article on Jon Snow's speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival