Young people from both countries were advisors on the project. Complete? was created and performed by these young advisors, including members of NIHR ARC West’s Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG).
The idea for Complete? came from conversations the young people from Bristol and Ghana had during focus groups for the project. The poem was written by Malizah and the video was created by Rising Arts Agency, with support from a team of academics from the Universities of Bristol and Cape Coast, Ghana. ARC West’s Lucy Condon and Mike Bell helped with recruiting and supporting the young advisors.
The young people and research team then fed back on the poem and video before it was finalised. Malizah was supported by Rising Arts, while the video was put together by Prince from Rising Arts and Bright from Playbuzz Production Team.
Complete? explores the pressure from peers, parents and others on young people to conform to society’s expectations of how different genders behave. Moving through different stages, from confusion and vulnerability to self-acceptance and self-respect, the poem brings young people’s experiences to life, including the lines:
“I used to get this feeling of defeat
All these constructs to meet
‘Will things ever be perfect?
Will I ever be complete?
Enough for them or you or me?’”
Dr Nadia Aghtaie, Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at the University of Bristol and lead academic on the study, said:
“The video Complete? captures one aspect of the research on how the society’s idealised views of gender affect young people and their mental health. The broader research aim was to investigate how young people’s everyday experiences of gender in the online and offline worlds have implications for their understating of healthy relationships and gender-based violence.”
Prince, the producer from Rising Arts who facilitated the video, said:
“The project itself was really inspiring but the YPAG members made it unforgettable. Considering the fact that I was one of the lead facilitators I was incredibly humbled by the things I learned from the YPAG members. They spoke so honestly about some really difficult topics and we really wanted to be sure the poem and video captured their sentiments. A project like this can be quite difficult if the group don’t share their thoughts authentically, but when we sat down with Malizah the poet and Wilf the composer we felt the energy the YPAG members were bringing immediately.
“It takes a lot to speak about these topics. I really hope they are proud of the video.”