Peter Kilroy is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies and the Department of Film Studies at King’s College London. Jonathan Mazower is Advocacy and Media Director at Survival International, an organisation which helps tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures. Dr Regina Lim did her PhD research in Philippine Cultural Identity and Traditional Settlements in Development: Coming to terms with cultural diversity in a nation-state.
The awful truth is that Indigenous communities are on mineral-rich lands that cause mouths to water in mining corporation boardrooms. It has been stated that Even if the "intervention" wasn't a straightforward land grab, then it suited powerful people who have a vested interest in keeping Indigenous Australians second-class. The panel looked at this tackling the question of land being taken away for benefits of the government economically.
The panel then focused on the film itself looking at what challenges a film maker may have in trying to get involvement from Australian Aboriginals to be a part of something like the documentary Utopia.
It was a very educational and insightful evening that took us from work with Bushmen of Botswana with Survival International to Indigenous Australians having remained itinerant and stateless citizens in their own state, to the struggles of land rights for tribes within the Philippines.
Oxford Brookes University undergraduates from Film Studies, Communications, Media and Culture and Business and Marketing Management were treated to a candid discussion with award winning British director, Ken Loach, during the opening night of the Oxford Human Rights Festival 2017. The director took the time to have an informal round table with a select number of students during the screening of his BAFTA award-winning masterpiece I, Daniel Blake.
These cineastes were unaware that morning that they would be spending the evening with one of the country’s most beloved filmmakers. Loach shared insights into his successful career in the British film industry, from his casting tips (drop your pencil to make a fool out of yourself and make the actors feel more comfortable), to his lasting relationship with his writers (your ideas matter more than your spelling!). It was a real once in a lifetime opportunity for the present filmmakers in the group to listen so closely to a filmmaker with more than six decades of experience and knowledge.
But Loach was most interested in speaking to the group about socio-political issues. He displayed his driving passion for the working class members of British society and the influence that this has had on all of his work. He asked the group about their political views in light of today’s political climate, noting how important it is for young people to remain engaged with current debates. The group discussed the Labour Party in particular and Loach’s political standpoint.
The director was particularly honoured to have his film screened at a human rights festival. He showed great interest in our festival and the work that the committee members had done to put together such a successful programme. He emphasised the importance of being politically aware for up and coming filmmakers, suggesting that the issues you tackle are always more powerful than the star names attached to a project.
Whatever the topic, whether it was Angelina Jolie or Jeremy Corbyn, Loach displayed great wit as well as wisdom and kindness. He encouraged the group of students to lead the conversation and asked the students as many questions as they asked him. Each and every student came away from the discussion warmed by his personable nature and with a new passion to create, and engage with the biggest issues we face in society today.
Funny old saying that…
According to research by Shelter, 1 in 3 families in the UK are only one monthly pay- check away from losing their homes. A staggering 37% of working families wouldn’t manage to cover their monthly bills if one partner lost their job. The statistics for those who are single parents and those who live alone are worse.
With high housing costs, credit card debt and zero hour contracts is it any wonder that there are over 16.5 million working age adults in the UK with no savings at all. This isn’t just unique to the UK, most English-speaking Western economies, including the US, Australia and Canada are finding their citizens are struggling to survive from month to month. The “working poor” of these countries have no emergency savings for healthcare or essential expenditure such as car and house maintenance.
I remember in the early 1990’s 100% mortgages were the norm, people bought houses on credit cards, you could borrow 5 times your salary at any major bank. But then the recession came, interest rates went out of control, house prices plummeted and negative equity took hold. I remember friends handing back their house keys to the bank. The pressure and sheer exhaustion of trying to ride the recession rollercoaster was just too much. Many moved in with friends and family or rented a sofa from a friend or colleague. How far were they from the streets, how far would they be, or you be if it were to happen again today?
Any one of us could find ourselves in this position. Whether by losing a job, through ill health, sudden disability or bankruptcy we all hit bumps in the road now and again. As a “successful businesswoman” not many people would expect me to have any experience of these bumps. But not so long ago, after a financially crippling divorce, I had two unforeseen events in my business, in succession, which made me vulnerable to financial disaster. Without adequate reserves, I found myself in a spiraling downward cycle of debt, I literally couldn’t take a wage for months. I asked for a payment break from my mortgage, a much easier option than if I had been renting of course, and had sleepless nights about letting employees go. Employees that I knew were living month to month too – how would they pay their rent?
As it happens I made some difficult decisions, and worked my way back out of that black hole. Would I have ended up on the streets? No of course not, because my resilience and social capital is good, family and friends would have intervened. But what if our resilience is damaged, our social capital low, or we are isolated far from home, it is easy to see how a simple chain of events can leave any of us hurtling towards homelessness.
We are all only one paycheck away…. it’s a funny old saying that…
It’s that time of year again, and like other students around me I’m off “home-home” for Christmas. Maybe I’ve grown out of the stereotypes of going home for laundry, good food and heating, but it will still feel good to be home.
Two weeks of spending time with my family, catching up with old friends and the traditional gathering with my cousins. It’s a time of last minute shopping, plenty of festive food, Christmas albums playing on loop and more than one argument over a board game. Home is a comfortable, safe and welcoming refuge where I can recover from the stress and drama of the semester, and share stories with my family of all the great things we’ve done this year.
I’m very lucky to have all this, I know. There are many who can’t go home this Christmas, who don’t have a home to go to, or who don’t have friends or family there to spend it with. Many elderly people will be spending Christmas at home alone, while homeless people across the country hope for shelter from the cold. People far away from home, whether seeking refuge, adventure or a new life must spend the season in a new place, without the traditions and home comforts they may be used to at this time of year.
Even for those who don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s a time to be with loved ones and come together against the cold of British December. From international students using the holidays to explore the UK or spend time with new friends here, to local students living at home who see all their friends leave for the season, being home for Christmas is not something to be taken for granted.
As for me, I can’t wait.
1) Think about what home means to you.
2) Grab your phone, laptop, camera or anything with a video recording device and say what home means to you in a sentence, word or gesture.
3) The video can be up to 30 seconds long.
4) Once you have taken the video email it to us or tag us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
5) We will then share your video on the OxHRF Instagram and add you to our collection of ideas.
6) Last but not least follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!
15,195km, 21 hours 15 minutes by plane, 32 days by ship. That is the distance between my old life and my new life. 9 hours behind in time and 4 oceans away from my family, friends, job security, sunshine and home. This got me thinking, but what is home? Is home where my heart is with my boyfriend in Kent, or is it in London where my eldest sister has been living for the last 4 years or is back where I just came from with my baby sister and parents, is that where my home is?
I believe, perceptions of ‘home’ do vary depending on culture and backgrounds but really it comes down to the individual opinions. I was raised in a predominately aboriginal community on an island off the coast of Brisbane, Australia. To my godmother Nunna from the Quandamooka tribe, home is the land we grew up on, the land that was stolen. To her and her tribe, they will never get their home back. I asked my roommate what is it like to live from home, be away from home? And what was home to him. As my roommate proclaimed ‘it is wherever everyone sounds the same as me.’
Today in the streets of Oxford I paused at this thought, what is home? I turned the question on the homeless man sitting rugged up in his sleeping bag on the pavement, “sir, you are called homeless, therefore it is perceived that you have ‘less than a home’, but what does home mean to you” his answer was short and sweet, “wherever my hat lands, that is my home for the night”.
Home is therefore not four walls and a roof, it is not always the country to which you come from, and it is not always where your loved ones are. Each of us have different meanings and each of us call different places in the world home. I believe that is what makes ‘home’ so special.
Music plays a huge role in making people feel ‘home’. Funk, soul, R&B, blues, pop, rock, hip hop… Everyone has their favourites guaranteed to make them happy!
The Witney Refugee Action Group decided to harness this creative element a few months after the Government resettled 6 Syrian families to Witney. We decided to organise a one day international music festival (Witney’s first!) to raise money for Oxford based charity Asylum Welcome and to formally welcome the arrivals to their new home. After months of organising bands, food, bar, raffle and activities, ‘Asylum Sounds’ was born! Music ranged from roots blues to turkabilly gyp-hop to DJs playing funk and soul into the night. We had poetry and live art by local artists Owen Collins and David Ranson, speakers such as local Labour councillor Laura Price, Amel Alariqi a refugee from Yemen who now works for Asylum Welcome and the executive director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima. We also had an art auction with paintings donated by local artist Karima Brooke, a massive raffle thanks to generous local donations, a cake sale and amazing children’s arts and crafts by In Our Element including a ‘build your own drum’ table.
We wanted to make the Syrian families feel comfortable, at home and able to share their own culture with us so we asked them if they wanted to bring some home-cooked meals to share with everyone. We named it a ‘Taste of Syria’ and for a small donation you could try anything on the table. It was such a success that I didn’t even get a chance to try any myself! A definite highlight was when the children of the families surprised everyone by getting up on stage to sing a song. Safe to say there was not a dry eye in the room.
All in all, it was a magical day full of art, music, food and love! We managed to raise £2000 for Asylum Welcome and £495 for the 7Cs Foundation, the local charity that gave us the venue.
We all learned a lot that day. That music really does bring people together and that no matter who you are or where you’re from, it’s always possible to create a home if it’s in your heart.
For more about the day (photos, videos and possibly even plans for next year’s event!), you can follow us on Facebook.
Throughout the semester members of the student committee will take turns to write a blog. It might be about organising the Festival, it might be about something else they are doing in or away from Brookes, it might be thoughts on our theme of home. Check in regularly to find out!