In response to the youth riots that took place across Britain during the summer of 2011, WFC ran a programme that looked at the causes of the riots from the perspective of young people. This project played out in two parts: the first group used interviews to establish the causes of the riots. These were: 1) police stop and search 2) lack of opportunity 3) parental discipline 4) a feeling of being outside mainstream society. Having identified four main causes, they came up with ideas for interactive web series’ designed to bring in other young people so that a youth debate might take place around these important issues. The team also created a brand, What We’ve Done, with a logo and a website.
Part 1 of the programme ended in December 2011. Part 2 began the following May, this time in partnership with The Prince’s Trust who helped to recruit new students. The new group took on the existing brand identity and made it their own. Of the four causes of the riots identified in Part 1, they chose to focus on police stop & search. there had been much criticism of police use of stop and searh powers, some of which were granted under the Terrorism Act and therefore, some would argue, misdirected when used to search teenagers on the street. Within the group, all the boys were regularly stopped and searched by police. There were discussions around how this made them feel and how it affected their relationship with mainstream society.
Over the three months of the project, the What We’ve Done group made a number of films with police stop and search as the theme. They were fortunate to be located in the same building as BBC 1 Xtra’s annual event, which meant they had the chance to interview some of the UK’s most celebrated musicians, actors, comedians and presenters about their views on stop and search.
Part 2 ended with a riots anniversary event at Passing Clouds music venue in Dalston. The aim was to use creativity as a way of making their voices heard, rather than violence. People write on a big graffiti wall, thee was ‘A Space To Speak’ where people were filmed talking about how they felt about the riots and other political issues, rappers told it from their point of view. It was an inspiring end a eye-opening project spanning eleven months.