Young, Religious and Judged

by Emily Wastell on July 2, 2014

This blog is given to you from one of the WEYDA group members Ali Barkat . . .

We are WEYDA, a group of young digital artists aged 11-16 from Newcastle’s West End.

This is our home and we all love living here, but the area has problems caused by recent feelings of hatred and tension between different ethnic groups. We don’t want these feelings in our schools or on the streets where we play. We want to bring peace to the West End and encourage everyone living here to embrace and respect the different cultures and religions of people living here.

We say it’s these differences that give the area its character and flare, but it’s essential that everyone works together to celebrate this as one community. That’s why we’re making a documentary called Young, Religious and Judged. It’s about what it’s like growing up, young, religious and judged in the West End of Newcastle.

We’re funding our documentary with a grant and also money we’ve made from selling comic books for a previous project. We’ve bought our own cameras and have learned to film, direct, script, write and edit. We’ve been working closely with a professional video production company, who are also filming us! We’ve already made our own crowd-funding video and are now preparing to film various religious leaders and groups in the area for our longer documentary. We are filming and interviewing local MPs and various religious leaders, including Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah and Hari Shulka OBE, who founded Newcastle Council of Faiths. These two people are also our role models for this project.

Our message is that people should care and help us with our project so that future generations don’t have to live in a racist society, where having abuse shouted at you is normal. Help us, your children, and their children.

Last Sunday, we had a showing of our crowd funding video and talked more about the work we are doing with the other religious communities. During the summer holidays we will be visiting all the other religious places of worship to talk to the other children and young people and we will film the whole thing. Our crowd-funding video will be launched onto the Crowd Funder site this week. So watch this space.

If you would like to get involved or support the project in any way please get in touch with