We were recently commissioned to work with a number of groups of young people to discover and communicate through three short films (still in production) their views about Hull’s identity as a maritime city – part of Hull City Council’s Heritage Lottery Fund bid to develop Hull as Yorkshire’s Maritime City by investing further in the public realm and the city’s museums and heritage.
It was fascinating to hear what they thought about who we are (when I say we, I mean ‘us lot’ – the people who live here), where we came from and where we’re all going, what they love about the city, what they think could be improved.
The work delivered a complete mixed bag of answers – from those who feel that Hull is a great city with strong communities, beautiful buildings, exciting stories and plenty happening to those who feel it’s a mess, it’s glory days are gone, there’s nothing good happening and no point in investing.
A definite split between the glass half-full and the glass-half-empty brigades; it’d be interesting to analyse further and see which of the two camps had the greater number of remainers or leavers – but we didn’t go there…
Another thing that stood out was how little most of the participants knew about the history of their own city, how Hull came into being, how it grew and developed. Most had never thought about how migration and settlement have made Hull the city it is today.
If young people are leaving school not knowing who they really are or where they really came from then how can they be expected to feel a sense of belonging to and responsibility for a place?
We hope the council is successful in establishing Hull as Yorkshire Maritime City. The sea and the rivers are our past and our future, they have made us who were are and shaped our city. Whether we like it or not we are, and always have been, a European city – and here at Nova, we like it.
Reinforcing our identity and our sense of place is vital. Let’s build bridges, not walls.