‘Flip the Streets’
On the 20th May, we had the incredible opportunity to volunteer alongside young members of the Manselton Community Centre to remove and replace hate graffiti (swastikas) which had been painted around the exterior of the building with a bright and positive mural.
The project welcomed a wide range of volunteers and attendees including South Wales Police, and head of PREVENT, Jane Carter. The project was also featured on BBC Wales after a journalist attended on the day to record interviews and the progression of the mural.
The artwork and materials were provided by Fresh Creative CIC. The artist who represented this company, had a huge impact on the day, as he displayed patience and encouragement to the young people participating in the project by demonstrating how to use the spray paints safely but allowing them the freedom to contribute to the designs. His efforts throughout the day were greatly appreciated by those involved, as they regularly asked for support and advice, which was provided by himself as he ensured everyone felt involved and valued.
All the designs were created by the young people who attend the community centre’s youth club. Through the help of Fresh Creative, they were able to feel represented. They took great pride in this and were then involved in adding colour to their creations. The project is unique and allowed several sectors within the community to collaborate in making a stand against hate crime and having a positive impact on their local area. In essence, the young members of this community centre demonstrated the ability to dismantle this attempt of hate and build better and brighter visions.
The ‘Flip the Streets’ project was organised by Dr Lella Nouri, and was funded by Race Council Cymru and the Arts Council of Wales. The core aims of this project were to:
- Raise awareness surrounding the importance of eradicating hate visuals and speech from communities.
- Inspire local young people and wider communities to feel represented in relation to their views and values.
- Showcase a counter-response to hate speech and crime by allowing members of the community centre to design artwork and designs to cover vandalism.
This was an inspiring project to witness, as the name and slogans chosen for the mural were all established by the members of the community centre. The project was widely appreciated by the community centre who welcomed volunteers with open arms, and demonstrated a huge appreciation for the efforts made by Dr Lella Nouri through creating artwork and paintings to thank her for her support and encouragement in replacing hate with hope.
This project allowed a powerful message to be delivered to those who attempt to disrupt peace amongst local communities and inflict harmful messages, by replacing their message with the statement ‘hate won’t win’. The ‘peace police’ as adopted by the young artists in attendance Saturday, demonstrated the hope for a stronger movement against racist views and hate crimes demonstrated widely across news outlets.
Hate won’t win.
One of the main objectives for the day, was to inspire the children to feel able to vocalise their views on racism and hate speech and develop their understanding surrounding these issues.
Despite the age of members varying from 7-14 years old, all members had a clear and mature understanding on the importance of equality and acceptance of other members of our communities, regardless of their appearance or background. These members were all eager to discuss the need to support each other and their frustration towards the vandalism witnessed on the community centre.
Throughout the day, many of the external volunteers from the police, PREVENT, and ourselves from Swansea University gained the opportunity to discuss these matters and views further with the young people.
Throughout these discussions, they demonstrated their strong resilience to racism and hate as well as the appreciation for the ‘Flip the Streets’ project and its ability to strengthen community resilience to these issues.
Overall, the children thoroughly enjoyed the project and were dedicated to bringing their artwork to life through deciding on their chosen colours and ensuring it was fully completed. External volunteers were also given the opportunity to get involved with the spray painting which was taken in stride from members of the South Wales Police as well as Dr Lella Nouri herself.
There was a huge variation of artwork across the entire mural including things such as ducks, popcorn boxes, doves and people. Each one was thoughtfully designed by young members of the community centre and held a special meaning to them.
When they were asked on the meaning and decision for certain images, each individual provided a clear reasoning for this. One example of this was the young artist who illustrated the popcorn box. They believed this was a good contribution to the mural as popcorn is loved by everyone and nobody could be angry at and they hoped everyone would love seeing this.
The young artist ensured their design was fully completed and worked consistently on the painting and input of their vision all day. This demonstrates perfectly, the empathy and consideration of these young members in ensuring everyone feels included and happy with their designs and values.
This project allowed us to see the importance of inclusion and encouragement for younger members of our communities and this only strengthens the hope of positively influencing their understanding and standpoint surrounding racism and hate crime.
In order to successfully work towards a more accepting and inclusive society, the need to shape youth’s understanding on the importance of kindness and encouragement is needed. This was clearly demonstrated within this project, as well as the impact of this with all members ensuring their peers felt encouraged and seen through working together to transform a place which is important to them and allows them to feel seen.
Hope for the future
This project demonstrates the clear hope for the future in relation to counter-acting racial hate crimes within the community and the positive impact it has on those who contribute to this.
As MA Cyber Crime and Terrorism students, due to embark within careers across this field, it allowed valuable insight into the opinions held by local youths in relation to such important issues and the need for more projects of this kind. Projects like this advocate the necessity to provide a positive outlet for individuals to express themselves creatively whilst also delivering an important message.
Hopefully, this event can path the way to the wider adoption of ‘Flip the Streets’ and allow other communities to join the ‘peace police’ and ensure a more accepting and brighter environment. We look forward to witnessing the progression of projects similar to this across Swansea and potentially South Wales, and the positivity we expect they will bring.
Once again thanks must be given to Dr Lella Nouri, Race Council Cymru and Arts Council of Wales for this inspirational project and the opportunity to be involved. Further thanks are greatly given to head of PREVENT Jane Carter and members of the South Wales Police for their attendance. We would also like to provide special thanks to Manselton Community Centre, specifically their volunteers and members of the youth club, for allowing us and accepting us being a part of this project.