Students tackle what injustice means to them

Thursday 14 March 2019

Is not England notoriously two nations, the rich and the poor? (George Orwell, England, Your England)

Today 60 sixth form students from 10 schools and colleges in the North East will gather at the Great North Museum to tackle some of the most pressing injustices in contemporary Britain.

Hosted at the Great North Museum and Newcastle University, the Injustice Commission brings together local organisations across the arts, education and civil society to support young people to express their vision for societal change.

The Commission, an initiative of the Orwell Youth Prize, is a day of workshops investigating injustice in Britain today, from race gender and wealth to educational inequality.

Students will hear from key players working to create societal change including Claire Ainsley, Executive Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Sara Bryson, Organiser, Citizens Tyne & Wear.

Presenter Charlie Charlton (BBC) will challenge pupils to explore gender inequality while Professor Anoop Nayak (University of Newcastle) will provoke them to think about racial inequality. Vicky Sturrs (BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art) will explore inequalities in education and award-winning social entrepreneur Sarah Dunwell will consider inequality of wealth.

In response, the students themselves will become advocates for change, working collaboratively to present their own perspectives and creating a powerful case for tackling the injustices debated.

Students will also be encouraged to enter this year’s national Orwell Youth Prize writing competition, the theme of which is ‘A Fair Society?’. Through a session led by Newcastle based writer and artist Stevie Ronnie, students will work to formulate an idea to develop into an entry.

Claire Ainsley, Executive Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation commented:

It is so important that the voices and views of young people are heard in the conversation about Britain’s future. This is a brilliant initiative, bringing Orwell’s work right up to date.

Charlie Charlton, BBC presenter and North-East Journalist noted:

Listening to what future generations think about the world we live in and debating the way it should develop, sets us on a path to a better place. I’m expecting a few lightbulb moments…for the students and most definitely, for myself.

The Newcastle Injustice Commission is the result of a partnership between the Orwell Youth Prize and the North East Collaborative Outreach Programme (NECOP). NECOP is a consortium of all of the universities and colleges in the North East region working together to support young people in the North East to think about their futures and how higher education can help them reach their goals. The Injustice Commission forms part of their programme of activity offered to students in target areas and schools.

The day also gives students an opportunity to engage in university style learning, Lucy Backhurst, Director of Student Recruitment, Admissions and Progress, Newcastle University and Chair of NECOP explained:

We’re really pleased to be working with the Orwell Youth Prize to deliver this event for local students. Our aim is to support young people in understanding higher education and how it could be beneficial to them. This event will give them real experience of taking part in seminar and lecture sessions as well as allowing them to engage with issues that matter to them.

George Orwell fearlessly explored injustice in Britain in the 1930s. The Orwell Youth Prize strives to enable young people to both retrace his work and strengthen their own voices to help shape the society they are a part of today.

About the Orwell Youth Prize

The Orwell Youth Prize is an annual programme for 12-18 year olds culminating in a writing prize. Rooted in George Orwell’s values of integrity and fairness, the prize is designed to introduce young people to the power of language and provoke them to think critically about the world in which they are living.

For more information and details contact: Alex Talbott, Programme Coordinator, The Orwell Youth Prize,