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Issue Date:- 26 May 2008


IN a first of its kind, a new partnership between children’s charity NCH and the BBC will give some of the Merseyside’s most vulnerable children the opportunity to become the creative stars of the future.

NCH is working with BBC Writersroom, placing leading writers in NCH projects across the country. Writers in Residence will work with some of the UK’s most disadvantaged children including young runaways, teenagers with disabilities and children facing challenges from isolation to poverty, to unlock and nurture their creative talents in a hunt for the next generation of top scriptwriters.  The rollout of writers in residence begins with 2 writers in Merseyside coinciding with Liverpool’s year as Capital of Culture. The top writers, whose works include some of the country’s most popular dramas like Eastenders, Brookside, Doctors and The Street, will introduce young people to the media industry in all its forms. Lasting for up to 6 months, creative workshops will see these professionals harness the talents of their would-be successors. Drawing on the experience and inspiration of writers, youngsters will delve into their creative depths and find new forms of expression, creating written pieces that range from short movies, animation, and online soaps.

Kate Rowland, BBC Creative Director of New Writing, who set up BBC Writersroom explains:- “Our aim at BBC Writersroom is to find the writing stars of tomorrow and nurture the best young talent out there. We want to hear different and untold perspectives on the reality of modern Britain -and young people from NCH projects can provide just that. But this collaboration with NCH also provides a chance for professional writers to use their talents in a different and extremely rewarding way. They will be opening young people’s eyes to talents they never knew they had, and offering them an insight into the opportunities available within the creative industries.  We're thrilled to be part of this pioneering partnership and we look forward to some of this work reaching a wider audience on different platforms."

Young people from 2 Merseyside based projects, the NCH Knowsley Family Intervention Project (FIP), which works with families at risk of eviction and homelessness as a result of anti-social behaviour and NCH Liverpool Young Runaways Project, which supports young people up to the age of 17 years, who go missing or run away from home or care within the Liverpool area,  attended the launch of the BBC initiative at The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain in London 21 May.

Jake, aged 14, who is attending the first pilot workshop at NCH’s Knowsley FIP said:- “When I was told about the workshops I thought they might be boring, but they have actually been really fun. Last week animators came to the session and I was really impressed by their sketches. I enjoyed working from their sketches to make character models from plasticine, and am looking forward to the next workshop.”

Launching the partnership, NCH’s Chief Executive Clare Tickell explains:- “This partnership is so exciting and unique, offering our young people chances that never come their way. Our Growing Strong campaign has shown that building self-esteem, confidence and resilience is vital for young people, particularly for the most excluded. This scheme will help achieve this. The doors are now open to develop their skills through creativity and writing to cope with many of the challenges they will face in the future.”

Roy Boulter, writer for The Street (BBC1) and Brookside (Channel 4) and Lucia Haynes, writer on Doctors (BBC1), are the first to take residence at NCH projects in Liverpool and Knowsley. Lucia, said:- ”I'm a few weeks into my project and I am enjoying the experience. I've been very lucky with my group who are enthusiastic and are keen to participate. I've been supported by project workers in the sessions who are also on hand to give advice whenever I need it."

Karen Fletcher, Project Manager at Knowsley Family Intervention Project:- "The writers workshops at the project has given the youngsters a wonderful opportunity to express themselves and let their ideas be heard.

They have bonded as a group and I have seen their self-esteem rise as they have taken pride in how their ideas are developing into an exciting story which has also given them the opportunity to explore consequences of behaviour.”

Lesley Stopforth, Project Manager at Liverpool Young Runaways, said:- “The Writers Room Workshops has been an excellent opportunity for our young people, as it has enabled them to take part in the creative process of sharing ideas, script writing and the seeing their ideas transferring into a DVD.

Giving the young people the opportunity to work with our writer and a professional actress was fantastic for the young people, as they supported, encouraged and motivated the young people to be able to take part in, what was for many of them, was a very frightening experience - being filmed.”


1 in 4 older people in the North West have become so worried about the future that they are making themselves ill, according to the 3rd annual Spotlight report produced by leading older people’s charity Help the Aged. The number of older people concerned about their future to the extent that their physical health has been affected has risen by the equivalent of nearly a million in the last year.

Spotlight 2008draws attention to the issues faced by vulnerable older people living in the UK today:- ageism; neglect; poverty; isolation and future deprivation. With limited progress on many of the issues in the past year, the Charity is urging the Government to remedy the long term neglect of older people. Help the Aged is challenging Gordon Brown’s Government to ease their worries by ensuring they have equal rights and are free from discrimination, wherever it confronts them, from hospitals to the high street.

Paul Cann, Director of Policy & External Relations at Help the Aged, comments:- “This year’s ‘Spotlight’ report shines a light on some of the worsening facts of life for today’s pensioners. It’s appalling that we live in a society where older people feel sick with worry about the future. The Government must ease their concerns by banning the ageism that continually sinks its poison right into the heart of our society.”

Other key facts which show the reality of growing older in the UK include:-

Grinding poverty grinds on.  In the past 12 months an estimated 200,000 extra pensioner households in the UK have been plunged into fuel poverty. The same number of older people are living in poverty in 2008 as in the previous year, with 21% of pensioners surviving below the poverty line. 15% of UK pensioners are living in persistent poverty.

Ageism rife.  34% of older respondents to Help the Aged research in the North West is equivalent to 376,584 older people, agreed that health professionals tend to treat older people as a nuisance. The Charity’s Just Equal Treatment campaign has highlighted the rampant age discrimination faced by older people, and called for a complete ban on age discrimination and a new duty on public bodies to promote age equality, as part of the Equality Bill announced in last week’s Draft Legislative Programme.

Dignity shock.  The proportion of older people in England who say they are not always treated with dignity in hospital has worsened from 21% to 22%. Provision of low level social care dropped dramatically with 11% fewer households - the equivalent of well over a million people; receiving care in England than in the previous year.

Access denied.  1 in 10 people in the UK aged 75 or over find it very difficult to get to their local corner shop, a jump of 3% points in just a year. In 2008, an estimated 44,304 older people in the North West do not get the help they need to get out of their own home, up from 2007. According to Spotlight, around 132,912 older people in the North West are lonely, this translates nationally to a disappointingly small improvement of just 3% points on 2007.

Paul Cann concludes:- “While the report paints a rather dismal picture of growing older in the UK, there have been some steps forward. More people aged 60 and over in Great Britain are taking up their entitlement to concessionary fares and the digital divide seems to be narrowing with people aged 65 and over now more likely to have used the internet.  That said, the Government has an enormous job to do to improve the lives of older people. As society ages, the demands of older people will rightly get louder and louder. The Government must respond or run the risk of alienating millions of voters as we approach the next general election.”

As part of the launch of the 2008 Spotlight report, Help the Aged has issued a series of key policy demands from the Government. These are:-

* Include a complete ban on age discrimination in the upcoming Equality Bill;

* Outlaw mandatory retirement ages in employment;

* The establishment of a targeted strategy to reduce pensioner poverty;

* Introduction of a system of automatic payments of benefits for older people;

* A set of clear plans for the eradication of fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010;

* A commitment to a new settlement for funding a transparent, universal method of delivering social care for our ageing population.

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