Our Black Country Near Neighbours team have been running ‘Real People Honest Talk’ (RPHT) in Wolverhampton.

Our Senior Development Worker has been joining in the session in Blakenhall, an here’s his thoughts.

I don’t know about you, but I hear a lot about echo chambers - where people end up only hearing views and beliefs that reflect their own views. This can lead lead people to begin to believe things that aren’t true. Having real conversations with a wide range of people from different culture, circumstances and backgrounds is a real antidote to this, and one reason why I have so enjoyed RPHT.

RPHT brings people together to talk about the tough issues around how we live together well. Our session was organised by our Near Neighbours Coordinator Shaz Akhtar, and was facilitated by Mark Webster. The facilitated format means that everyone is welcome to join these safe spaces and it allows people to discuss issues in local neighbourhoods that they want to address, eat together and get to know each other.

We started by looking at some of the great things we love about our City. As the photo below shows, this was very varied.

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Great things about Wolverhampton!

Session two

A week later, looked at the issues that really mattered to the group - a diverse group of residents and people working in Wolverhampton. As you can see below, there are some major issues which affect the lives of our group members.

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Some of the issues participants are experiencing and grappling with

Session three

Session three explored these themes more and looked for patterns. It also helped us focus on ways we can work together to make a change.

It was fascinating reflecting as a group on our experiences of RPHT:

Donald * explained how he felt “RPHT has come at an interesting time, with big divisions in our society. Lots of groups are trying to divide people, but we are coming together!”

Joe * shared how “people seek to simplify comeplex issues into simple headlines that seek to blame others.”

One of the things that will dwell with me for a long time is Lucy’s * haunting testimony on everyday racism and hate crime - “I expect it (racism) from the older generation but not from young people. When I’m out and about shopping, I hear racist comments; I see people holding their noses and refusing to sit next to people of other cultures on the bus.”

At the end of the third session, we reflected on one thing we had all learned, which was incredibly moving:

“Most of us want the same things .... fairness, a voice, health and happiness but we have different ways to get there.”

“There’s a real passion to work together.”

“Everyone can contribute!”

People also shared how the three sessions spent together had changed them:

Peter * said “I might not see eye to eye, but I must listen to another’s perspective. I understand that there is often a particular reason for those views, even if I don’t agree with them.”

It’s not too late to get involved with Real People Honest Talk, we’re running the ‘Big Conversation’ on 6th December, where attendees from across the City will be joined by civic, religious and business leaders to hear these views.

* Names changed for confidentiality *

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