LAST June, I was approached Never Such Innocence (NSI) to ask whether I would consider hosting a NSI Community Roadshow Event in the constituency.
Never Such Innocence is an international education charity which works to give children and young people a voice on conflict by inviting them to reflect on different forms of conflict throughout history. To date, NSI has worked with young people in 47 countries, dependencies and territories spanning five continents to amplify the voices of children and young people all over the world. Whilst the charity began as a First World War commemoration project, it has now expanded its focus to include Conflict in all forms and throughout history, up to and including the present day. This includes conflicts at community-level such as knife crime and gang violence.
After a lot of planning and organisation, I was pleased to host a Community Roadshow Event at Compton Verney in December 2019. NSI had engaged with local schools across the constituency and over 100 children from four schools joined us on the day. In the beautiful surroundings of Compton Verney, students from St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School, Kineton High School and Southam College recited original poetry that focused on damage to communities during conflict. They had taken part in poetry workshops ahead of the event, assisted by poet Clive Sanders. Temple Herdewyke School rounded off the event by performing a song, which was produced at a songwriting workshop with NSI Artist in Residence, Bethzienna Williams.
Representatives from the MoD’s Kineton Station, the Royal Navy, and both Warwick and Stratford District Councils were also present to hear what the young people had to say. We were all hugely impressed by the quality of the work produced by the schools taking part. All of those who performed were impressive and the talent of our local young people was clear to see. The professional artists who worked with them ahead of the event specifically commented on how much they had enjoyed working with our schools and how impressed they had been with the engagement at – and output from – the workshops.
NSI are currently accepting entries from young people aged 9-18 for their 2019/20 competition. This year’s theme is ‘The Impact of Conflict on Communities’. I encourage local children and young people to take part by writing and submitting a poem, speech, or song, or creating a piece of art – reflecting on how a conflict has affected or is affecting a community. The competition closes on the 20th March 2020, so there is still time to enter.
Visit www.neversuchinnocence.com/2019-20-competition for further details.