UpRisers from Luton visit Northern Ireland

UpRisers from Luton visit Northern Ireland

March 10, 2017

In January, UpRisers from Luton had the opportunity to visit the city of Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland as a part of ‘Telling Stories’, a project led by Runaway Media with the objective of encouraging young people to talk about what it's like growing up in Britain today.

Whilst visiting Derry, UpRisers had the opportunity to tour the city and take part in interesting workshops and talks about the Troubles in Northern Ireland; including speaking in consultation with John Peto, Director of Education for The Nerve Centre and members from the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition. 

Mikhail, who is currently on the 2016/17 Luton Leadership Programme, said of the trip:

“Visiting Londonderry was a brilliant opportunity which I am so grateful to UpRising and Telling Stories for bring me into. As soon as we stepped foot in Ireland we had such a welcoming introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the country and city. Everyone was wonderful and genuinely interested in sharing their own personal stories about their experiences of Derry/Londonderry and equally they encouraged us to tell our own stories of Luton.

There were signs of division within the Protestant and Catholic communities, demonstrated by the geographic separation within the city; which was intriguing and surprising to see.  Personally, as a Muslim, I have never experienced such segregation and so it was a significant culture shock for me.  I was fascinated to understand the deep-rooted issues and history behind such a situation. “

On the last day of the trip Dominica, who is also a current participant on the 2016/17 Luton Leadership Programme, decided to attend a panel that was organised to commemorate the anniversary of Bloody Sunday.  She said of the experience:

“It was moving to hear the personal accounts of survivors as well as hear how those who lost family members had subsequently tried to rebuild their lives.  There was an incredible sense of solidarity and compassion in the room as each speaker spoke of the struggles that they have had to endure in securing justice for their loved ones. Although it was an emotionally charged event, it was the highlight of my trip and provided a personal narrative to conflict which tends to be overlooked by mainstream media.”

Speaking about the entire experience, Anastasia, a participant of the 2015/16 Leadership programme in Luton and alumni, had this to say:

“This is what UpRising encourages young people to do; step out of their comfort zone and explore what could be.  UpRising has encouraged me to face my fears and not sit around dreaming of what I could be, but actually taking steps to believe in myself.  UpRising has helped me a lot with inner growth and to set realistic aims towards achieving bigger goals.

I really appreciate the staff at UpRising.  They have supported me and the cohort even after I graduated from theprogramme; encouraging me to take part in projects such as Telling Stories. “

On Tuesday 21st March 2017, UpRising, alongside Runaway Media and All Faiths and None, will host a celebration event of the project, where the group will reflect on their learnings, and a film of the cultural exchange trip will be aired.  The event is taking place from 4-6pm at The Hat Factory, 65 - 67 Bute Street, Luton, LU1 2EY.  For a free ticket RSVP alex.wrack@uprising.org.uk.