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Art, laughs & British values with Steve Wright

“It’s crucial to teach the next generation about these difficult topics. Our job is to look forward with our students, not to look back. The young people have no idea what’s going to happen in this country in the next few decades, good or bad. Our job is to be positive, to encourage and curate character. Create citizens for the 21st century.” – Steve Wright

When you say ‘Workshop on British Values’, you hardly expect stirring graffiti imagery, hilarious and meaningful anecdotes, outrageous puppets and even Pez dispensers posing as gang members. But that’s what happened when Hall Green was treated to a brilliant workshop from Yorkshire artistic educator Steve Wright.

Steve broke down the walls with South & City College Birmingham students by being performative, down-to-earth, and excitable. The workshop covered all sorts of humbling and difficult topics from the pandemic legacy, respect, gangs, tolerance, banter, radicalisation and more.

Quotes from real students were performed through puppets, and Steve’s own life lessons helped build a bridge. When asking students what 3 words people would use to describe them, Steve used to get ‘Cheeky, Disruptive and Troubled’ at school thanks to his broken family home.

“Gangs are a powerful role model to young people without one! I know I would’ve run to gangs when I was a kid.”

 “We’re all different but we breathe the same air.”

Steve Wright started making puppets for children and entertainment, worked in television, and got a chance to create his unique storytelling with teenagers at a Summer Play scheme. The legacy of the pandemic has had a strong impact on the next generation, losing 2 years of social learning, and now Steve is helping to cover that gap.

The final story was how footballer Marcus Rashford, after missing a penalty at the Euro Cup, had a mural defaced with racist insults, only to have the community repair it and turn it into a shrine.

“I see the whole world in this city,” Steve says of the very multicultural Birmingham area. “In this room. It’s your future, your century, and everyone will play a part in it. You can’t afford to exclude people just because you don’t agree.”

South & City College Birmingham staff and students want to thank Steve Wright for his heartfelt show and life lessons. You can find him at Routes Puppets and on Twitter