N17 is a radio programme created in partnership by students of Harris Academy Tottenham, Kick it Out, Threads Radio, Haringey Council, RoughHouse Theatre and playwright, Dougie Blaxland. With the support of the Windrush Day Grant – the partners worked collaboratively to produce and broadcast a radio programme – N17 – to coincide with Black History Month. N17 celebrates the extraordinary contribution made to British Society by descendants of the Windrush generation who settled and brought up their families in Tottenham. The programme was researched and scripted by students at Harris Academy Tottenham with the support of award-winning playwright Dougie Blaxland. The same students also conducted recorded interviews (via zoom) with a number of people who come from Tottenham and have made a significant contribution to a wide range of areas: David Lammy MP, BAFTA-winning actress Letitia Wright, England cricketer Mark Alleyne, the family of England footballer Laurie Cunningham, International composer Dr Shirley Thompson, and rapper and social entrepreneur Mary Otumahana.
The programme was originally intended as a ‘live event’ to be staged at The Bernie Grant Arts centre in Haringey to coincide with the Windrush Festival 2020 in June. Because of COVID, however, the project was adapted to meet the needs of social distancing, and as a result a radio programme was produced and broadcast by Threads Radio in October 2020. After the first broadcast of N17 on October 2nd, the audience response was so positive that Threads Radio decided to broadcast the programme two more times during Black History Month.
The project was dedicated to celebrating the lives and achievements of British citizens descended from people enslaved under the rule of the British Empire, revealing the untold stories of the Windrush pioneers and the remarkable legacy that they have given to us. It provided a really important counterbalance to a dominant media presentation of Tottenham and N17 as an area associated with riots and knife crime perpetrated by young black males. In this context the interviews conducted with the younger citizens of N17 were deeply revealing and highlighted the powerful sense of community pride that exists in spite of the negative publicity. The project enabled the next generation of young Black British citizens – represented by students of the Harris Academy – to articulate their individual and collective hopes and aspirations.
N17 has brought local educational, political, cultural and artistic organisations together in pursuit of a common goal to celebrate cultural and racial diversity in our society. The project undoubtedly helped everyone involved retain a sense of purpose and balance during the weeks of lockdown and the months of social isolation.
A great idea to engage young people and teach them overlooked truths about the immigrant generations of the 50s and 60s."
I love the wide-ranging aspect to this project, from educating people about vital parts of little-known history, to improving mental health during lockdown, to creating a compelling and informative radio programme, to engaging with different parts of the community. It’s great how schools were involved and could access the project across the country. A brilliant example of how creativity can bring people together in tough times, and can play a vital part in increasing wellbeing."
This is a fantastic project, allowing younger people to develop and share a deep knowledge of their local community and history, all in the context of current societal issues. It’s also a very positive example of time during lockdown being used for constructive projects which benefit both the makers and their audience. The audience figures are very impressive. Congratulations to everyone involved!"
As we continue to navigate Britain’s multi-cultural identity, projects like these grow in their importance and necessity. History can’t be rewritten but it can be corrected with additional information that makes it more complete. Being of West African descent means I have an affinity with this project and its objective and it’s ability to pivot and meet the moment by presenting the material in radio format and sharing it outside the confines of N17 - to Bristol, West Midlands, other parts of Londons as well as schools."
An ambitious project that showed adaptability and the ability to entertain and educate."
This sort of project is needed now more than ever, and the fact that it has been spearheaded by young people makes it doubly worthwhile. Young people taking the responsibility to take charge and do things their own way is such an important step in a person's development. I think the fact that it switched from a live event to a radio broadcast because of COVID not only shows determination to get the project completed but has actually meant its reach was far wider."
Threads Radio and Haringey Council have clearly given British young people a voice, who were born in this country and have not always been fully heard. Those young people have used the arts and the radio as a medium to share their experiences and to educate others about Black history and the Windrush Generation in the UK. A genuine project for young people, by young people - and impressive audience numbers."
Given the shameful treatment of the Windrush generation and the disproportionate effect of COVID in areas with high Black population, this programme was obviously needed. The quick-thinking of the project organisers here has turned what might be a hindrance into a help. Radio has proved its worth in the pandemic as an affordable and effective way of ‘big room’ discussion when we can't meet in person. Here an important subject – perhaps the important subject of 2020 – was discussed in ways which made all involved feel proud, loud and heard. It obviously works; I can only hope that Haringey and Harris Academy continue their collaboration and Threads Radio gets to broadcast more of the results."
A valuable and accessible project, which engaged young people during Black History Month, teaching them new skills and allowing their work to be distributed to a wider audience. By highlighting the lives of the Windrush generation and their descendants in their local area, the project had relevance and significance both to the young people involved, and to the wider UK audience who were able to listen to the programme."
An inspirational project targeted at a clearly identified community need and formed on the foundation of a strong cross-sector partnership. The level of engagement and coproduction with the young people involved in the project was very impressive."