Our Festival Focus Day is based on the belief that poverty can only be truly addressed when those who experience it first-hand are at the heart of the process. But how do you talk about poverty in a meaningful way to people who are experiencing it?
Brought to you in collaboration with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, our special Focus Day introduces the writers and performers who empower people to tell their own stories, and those at the sharp end with lived experience of poverty.
Join us and learn about the challenges young people face today and watch the film Shared Stories. Our keynote speaker is journalist and documentary filmmaker Billie JD Porter, who will talk about poverty and the bigger picture. Billie has been closely involved with Project Twist-It a campaign founded by writer and journalist Mary O’Hara, a project that challenges the shame and stigma of poverty in Britain and America.
Billie will be joined by award-winning novelist Mahsuda Snaith, and Nikki Varley and Keiran Cranston of Project Twist-It, who will talk about changing people’s perceptions and the idea of an Alternative Census.
Our Focus Day continues throughout the day, so why not stay for Activism and Action, Changing the Narrative and a special film screening of the documentary A Northern Soul? Don’t miss the Beats Bus which will be parked in Parliament Street from 11am to 5pm.
About the speakers
Billie JD Porter is a British journalist, presenter and documentary filmmaker. She began her career as a music writer, contributing to titles such as NME, Vice, Wonderland and Dazed & Confused. She went on to front documentaries for BBC3 and Channel 4, including the 2017 series, Sound and Vision which she Created and Exec Produced. Billie is the founder of Use Your Voice - an initiative which seeks to make politics more accessible to young people. Alongside the Guardian journalist and author Mary O'Hara, Billie helped launch Project Twist It - a hub for untold stories, trying to change the poverty narrative.
Mahsuda Snaith is a writer of novels and short stories. She is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014 and Bristol Short Story Prize 2014 and a finalist in the Mslexia Novel Writing Competition 2013. Her novels are The Things We Thought We Knew (Black Swan) and How to Find Home (Penguin). She was named an Observer New Face of Fiction 2017. Mahsuda has led creative writing workshops in universities, hospitals, schools and in a homeless hostel. She has been commissioned to be a writer for the Colonial Countryside project and is a mentor for the Middle Way Mentoring Project for Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic writers basedin the Midlands.
Nikki Varley, also known by her stage moniker ‘Envy’, is a critically acclaimed, Mancunian rapper/songwriter behind Set Yourself On Fire (“Sensational, scattergun delivery and hooks that lodge in the skull” – the Guardian). She is known for her honest, witty social commentary, with the BBC suggesting Nikki for the Mercury music prize shortlist in 2010. She is Director of NoAgender, a non-profit with an aim to lift the limitations of gender stereotypes, and a member of Think Nation’s advisory board. She is also currently Deputy Youth Work Manager/Head of Youth Arts at Europe’s largest youth club, Wigan Youth Zone.