Breaking the stigma around council homes and social housing by Louise Taylor Winner’s Story

Recently we contacted one of our winners from this year Louise Taylor and asked her to introduce her winning project which aimed to change perceptions surrounding council homes and social housing. We asked her to share her journey and what inspired her:

Throughout my time at university studying graphic design, I always had a project at the back of my mind that I knew I wanted to one day explore. When my third and final year came round and self-negotiated briefs were an option, I knew this was the time to focus on my idea, and bring it to life.

Having grown up on a council estate in south east London I couldn’t imagine anything different. I absolutely love and adore the area I have always called home. However, as I grew older I began to realise the huge stigma surrounding council estates. Many of the stereotypes often associated with these places involve unemployment, high crime, and drug and alcohol abuse. I found this difficult to understand when looking at the hard-working, house-proud people I am constantly surrounded by.

I soon came to the realisation that the media has a huge role to play in creating these stereotypes, with particular programs really emphasising the idea of stereotypical council estate residents. To reinforce this idea about the media I decided to interview a range of people at my University, most of who have never been on a council estate. I simply asked, “What is your perception or idea of the type of people that live on a council estate?” Many of the responses included lazy, don’t work, benefits, drugs etc.

With this understanding of research I set myself the brief to break the stigma around council estates. I felt a short documentary would be the best technique to use as I personally enjoy watching them on social media and feel a lot could be learnt in a short time. I also felt a documentary would create emotion and immediately change people’s thoughts and understandings and allow them to quickly share it with others.

In order to create the documentary I started by posting on social media asking for volunteers who would be willing to be interviewed.

The response from my post was overwhelming and I began to receive messages expressing how the stigma needed to stop. This involvement from the public really encouraged me as I had never created a film before and I was unfamiliar with the equipment I needed to use.  Alongside the interviews, I also visited a range of areas to capture a wide variety of exterior shots. The idea for these shots was to create a very ‘predictable council estate’ feel that is often shown in the media, this is emphasised through the use of a black and white filter.

When people are introduced the documentary then bursts into colour. This is to simply represent how we should not judge something or someone from first appearance as the following shots show how beautiful the homes are inside.

Overall I feel my project really took me out of my comfort zone, as I had to learn how to use equipment and editing programs, whilst also finding the confidence to meet and interview volunteers.  I also feel the Creative Conscience awards have been perfect for me, as I want to become a graphic designer that creates change and designs for good.

– Louise Taylor, Nottingham Trent University graduate.