'Sixteen' is a group project I am leading with 14 fellow photographers looking at the experience of sixteen year olds all around the UK.
This series is all made in The North of England in summer 2018.
Exhibitions tour nationwide from February 2019 - April 2020
“I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to be, like ‘oh, what am I going to do tomorrow to help me get along’. I don’t want to be worried about money. Having to worry about, like, where I’m going to get food from, where I’m going to live, where I’m going to be able to settle. I just don’t want to end up living with me mum when I’m like forty - and thirty. You go to town and there’s all these homeless people and there’s all these food banks and they still don’t have anywhere to live and they’re hardly supported and I don’t want to be like that.”
“You look at me and I’m brown obviously cause my skin colour’s brown so you probably think I’m a Muslim but I don’t really… I know I shouldn’t be saying this but….I’m not really Islamic. Most Muslims wear scarf, like it’s the way they’re portrayed isn’t it, like you should wear scarf, do this, do that, can’t go out. You’re not allowed to do this. Men. Women. It’s all biased. I don’t like it. At all.
Stereotypical, that’s what it is. Stereotypical.”
“Ninety-eight percent of us are Asian but I hang about with some white people, to get to know them, what are they like, what do they do, because we don’t know that -because we don’t live the same lifestyle as them. We are not allowed to do the certain things that they can. So, for example, if they go out and drink, we can’t do that because it’s against one of our rules that God has given to us through his messenger. That we can’t do, this we can’t do. That we can do this, we can do that.”
“I believe that our generation can do something about the inequality issues. Some of the minds we have in our generation, the optimism we have in our generation is something no one’s ever seen before. The way that we think is completely different to past generations. I think with platforms like social media we can literally change the world. We can change it by creating new norms. Creating a level playing field for everyone.
Any generation before has had some sort of alpha, ‘we’re, like, the top, we’re the best in this society’ and I think that our generation could be the first to scrap that and say ‘no, everyone’s at the top, no matter what race you are, what sexuality you are, what gender you are’. Everyone’s at the top, everyone has the same opportunities and I think the majority of people in our generation think like that and I think that can only go one way in the future and that’s for the better.”
“Terrorism really scares me… you don’t want to go to a place and think
‘oh I don’t want this to happen at this place’ but now that’s what you think when you go to places. People who went to that concert last year, they didn’t think they’d be ending their life they were just going to have fun and so it’s horrible when you go into a place that’s busy and that could potentially happen and you want to be having fun but your scared. It’s horrible and it’s also scary with all the Donald Trump stuff with him taking over America and like wanting to build a wall and stuff it’s horrible.
I went to Ed Sheeran earlier in the year and I was scared of that happening. It obviously didn’t but I was like… especially towards the end of it….. during the concert I got distracted and I forgot about it but at the end of it and we were all leaving I was very wary of like people around me and like the sounds that were going on.
I kept tight hold of my mums hand I was not going anywhere like away from her.”
“I have me older brother what lives with me and my nan and my granddad and I have two sisters younger and another brother what’s younger and they’re are in care because my mum couldn’t look after them, so they went to care. Same thing could happen to me, but my nan wanted me and so I didn’t go to care.
I see my younger sisters and brothers sometimes.
I were like seven, she were taking drugs all the time.
She wasn’t working.
I don’t see me mum now. I know she’s in Blackburn
It’s a lot.
My dad died. He used to work.
Hopefully I can get a job being a chef. I’m not really bothered. I’ll probably just stay in Darwen, but there’s not a lot of jobs. My future is hope to get rich; be rich and to get like loads of cars. I don’t worry about nothing really.
Sometimes I can be happy, but sometimes I can get angry.
I used to get bullied a lot.
I worry about violence, like if people are trying to jump me and all that.”
“I worry about getting pregnant early, that’s it really.
Failing at what I’m trying to achieve, ‘cause at school I’m struggling, because of all the people attacking me, bullying me and stuff. But trying to block them out doesn’t work, that’s why I like being on my own.
And I’m afraid that my life is going to end in like a war or something. I’ve always been afraid of like World War Three happening. That’s why I like being close to family, so I know where everybody is.
I was born in 2002 - my whole life has been with terrorism.”
“In my high school, I think in my year, there was one person who was Chinese and I can’t think of anyone …that was black. In Runcorn, I’m not sure about Widnes, it’s very, like, white, yeah. It’s not culturally diverse.
I think it’s bad. I don’t think there is anything that can be done to make Runcorn any more culturally diverse, but I do think it’s bad because I know a lot of people who are like ‘ban the burka’ and all sorts like that about different religions. People who don’t like study in RS, learn about different cultures and it just really annoys me because I know if they went to school with people from different religions then they’d probably have a different view. It really annoys me that people are just ignorant, not to learn about the other cultures instead of just having hatred for them.”
“I’ve already, like, created a plan of what I need and what I have to do to get to where I want to be.
I created an analogy about dandelions and how they are similar to students and how they grow from being so small and they mature and they flourish and then they fly off to wherever they are going next.”
“Me mam passed away just before I came into foster care….. it was a drug overdose but the actual cause of death was heart attack.
It still hasn’t hit us now that she’s passed away. I’m sort of like just scared for the moment when I do actually click on and just wake up in the morning and ‘right me mam’s not here anymore’. I’m still like scarily waiting for that moment. I just don’t know how I’m going to take it.
I self harm quite a lot. It’s not as bad as it was before but I still do it on occasions, like when it comes up Christmas and stuff like that. Family time. When your life is supposed to be like perfect type of thing. And I have tried to kill myself in the past before.
I want to change the cycle, so I’m not stuck in the same loop as my parents were, like getting in trouble with the police, taking drugs, having kids young. For my kids to copy me, I’d rather, like, make a better example.
I’ll be the first one in my family to go to university, first one to go to college or sixth form as well…. crazy.
I want to go to Sunderland University and do a psychology and counseling degree. To be like a teaching type counselor in schools.
I’d just like to give someone a chance to be heard, really. As I wish someone was there for me.”
“I want to be happy and I feel like the one way you can win in life is just to be happy and right now I’m happy with things and even though I get emotional or I get negative thoughts I just think ‘be grateful for where you are. Just be grateful’ ”.
“I don’t think I’ll stay in Runcorn because there’s not much to do as a job. …Quite a few people want to move to Wales because there’s more jobs there for them apparently.”
“Where I live everyone’s quite old and quite, they’re all like pensioners, they’re all so nice and lovely….. it’s quite nice living in a place like that.
I’m not bothered about money, like I’d do a job that I don’t care about how much money I get… I just want to help people really, like that’s what I’ve always wanted to do, it’s always been along the line of like a doctor, or psychologist.
Brexit. All my family wanted to leave, well most of them did anyway, so I guess that’s what makes me want to say like just to leave… but I wouldn’t say I know why because I didn’t really take an interest whereas if I had the right to vote I would’ve taken much more of an interest in it . I would’ve like watched it and taken note of things.
We’re the next generation and it affects us more than it does the older generations cause it’s us that are going to me more impacted by it really because we’ll be the ones growing up in that sort of…the new way it’s going to be.
I understand why they think that we’re not mature enough and stuff like that but, I think if we did have the right to vote we would have known what we’re talking about a bit more.
I’d definitely make my own decision on it
“My dad, my mum and my step-dad, Lucas, have all lived in Barrow…. forever.
My nana lived in Urswick, my granddad lived in Roose where I live now, so that’s Barrow. His mum also lived in Roose quite far back and I’m pretty sure my dad’s family lived in Barrow quite far back too. I know my grandparents did and I’m pretty sure their parents did as well.
It’s like, just part of you being Barovian, I’m sure it’s the same as everywhere else; you’ve kind of got a bit of connection.
Without the shipyard, Barrow would just be empty. Everyone would have to move; there’d be no jobs. It holds it together. Most people I went to school with are drifting towards the shipyard. It’s one of the biggest attractions for people in school - still. They craze over getting into BAE.
About sixty percent of my year applied for a place there… ‘cause it’s well paid. I think that because it’s, like, the main attraction of jobs in Barrow, there’s like everything there. There’s photography, there’s engineers, there’s welders, it offers a lot. So I think a lot of people go ‘I can do pretty much what I want in my hometown. In the shipyard.’
And a lot of people’s parents work in the shipyard so they kind of follow on from their parents as well. A lot of people go for staying here. I don’t but…”
“I’ve been in care since I was, like, a year and a half old. I’m now classed as a care leaver. Social services say I’m actually the worst case they’ve ever brought into care. Ever.
I got put into numerous foster placements and then when I was about fourteen I got put in a care home. Everything started falling apart and then I moved to Wales and it got to the point where I tried to kill myself, in three weeks, one hundred and forty-seven times. I got put in hospital. They were sectioning me and all this…it got, like, really far.
The hospital let me go and I was fine and I felt like ‘I want to get a piercing’. I already had my ears done. That was the start of it. I went to a piercing studio and I got my bridge done and then suddenly I didn’t feel like I was wanting to hurt myself anymore. Then the next time I felt like it I went and got my lip done and that was like the new way for me to self harm and for it to not look as bad as it should.
Self harmers say that they cut themselves because they feel like they’re not there, they don’t exist. They cut themselves to feel the pain so they know they’re real. And with piercings it’s kind of like the same thing. It was only because of the problems and issues I had that I started getting piercings.
When I need to self harm, I get a piercing.”
“My mums from England, my dad’s from Pakistan. My culture, the way I live at home is like the Pakistani way. Like the foods we eat, the way we live our lives basically it’s different to how a normal British white family would live.
Family is very important to me. My dad is abroad because of his parents. Like they’re ill so after my dad I play the role as the leading man in the house….He comes back after a few months and then stays here for like six, seven months and then goes back home.
There’s nothing to be scared of if you’re right, if you’re right, anything can happen but in your heart, your God knows as well that you’re right so I don’t think that you have to be scared of anything you just have to be right.
What I say to myself is let the haters hate, Why? because I know how I am from inside and the people who know me well know how I am.”