Cool > ‘Exposure Asks’ ARTiculate: What makes us British?

Posted on August 1, 2017

Photography by Derek

Young people in north London explore their culture and identity

ARTiculate is a youth programme at all inclusive arts centre, Community Focus. It uses creativity to enhance and celebrate the positive mental health and emotional well-being of 16-25 year olds.

What does it mean to be British? While stereotypes can be misleading, certain things arguably form part of our national identity. Young people at ARTiculate share their thoughts on British values and culture today, and how these relate to their own lives.

Scroll down and use the slider tool to see how this group responded, and to view relevant statistics and quotes they wanted to share. The images on the left show how the young people felt, while the images on the right provide information on each issue.

In Britain we are democratic – we all have a say in who leads our country
 by Rachel

I’m Rachel and I’m going to be 18 very soon and I want to vote because I want to give my views on who should be the prime minister. It’s important to have your say because if you don’t, it won’t have an impact on the country. However, I don’t think the voting age should be lowered because some young people can be quite immature and they don’t always understand politics the way some adults do.

I think Theresa May is the best politician because she’s a feminist. She’s only the second female prime minister of our country. That’s one of the reasons I like her.

In 1918, after World War I, women over the age of 30 were allowed to vote and to stand for Parliament for the first time (and in 1928 finally achieved the same voting rights as men). We got our first female prime minister in 1979 (Margaret Thatcher).

Jane Austen, one of Britain’s best-known female authors, is the face of the new polymer £10 note, which was revealed by the Bank of England on 18 July 2017, on the 200th anniversary of her death.

British music is popular around the world
 by Jamal Brown

I’m Jamal, I’m 23. There are some very famous British musicians like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Queen. I know modern-day singers better, though, like Robbie Williams. His latest album Things Are Getting Better was released on 3 June 2017. You can listen to it here for free on Spotify.

My favourite musician, is Jónsi, who is from Iceland. Where no one goes, is the song of his I like the most. It is the soundtrack for How To Train Your Dragon 2.

Five of the top 10 best-selling albums worldwide in 2014 came from British artists including One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Pink Floyd and Sam Smith. UK artists were responsible for one in seven albums sold around the worldwide in 2014, making up a 13.7% share of the global market.

England’s cricket team always tries hard!
 by Shane Gunesh

I’m Shane, I’m 17. My whole family like watching cricket. We watch on TV and sometimes it goes on for hours. I like the game because of the clear rules.
The Oval 100th Test Match is currently being broadcast on the BBC, 27-31 July 2017.

The earliest evidence of cricket being played is in 16th century England, so it’s a very old tradition here. India actually has the best team now, but I still think England are good and they try hard.

I started playing cricket myself when I was little. I used to play with my sister, who is five years younger than me. Now I play in the park with my friends. I like batting the best, especially when I hit the ball far!

Our capital is multicultural and welcoming!
 by Ursula Mutingwa and Martin Skworc

I’m Ursula, I’m 18. When I read that there are 270 nationalities in London I was surprised. I hadn’t realised just how diverse it is. In fact the capital is getting more and more mixed. In the last census of 2011, only 45% of Londoners described themselves as ‘white British’, a drop from 58% in 2001.

Currently about a third of people living in London were born in another country. Because of that mix there’s a strong sense of all those other cultures, for example in the many restaurants or at festivals like Notting Hill Carnival.

My own parents came to London from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1996, two years before I was born. They found life here to be cosmopolitan and full of opportunities, and they thrived in the diversity the city offered. As well as being welcomed by people who had been born in Britain or lived here all their lives, they found comfort in connecting and making friends with people who had also lived in DRC.

Because of my background, I speak three languages: French, Lingala and of course English. So multilingualism is natural to me, just as it is for many Londoners today!

Britain is friends with lots of countries like the United States, France and Germany by Dahria Hall

I’m Dahria, I’m 19 and I was born in the Bahamas and my brother was born here in Britain. I’ve been to the Bahamas to visit with my family. People there like to meet people from Britain and to hear about life here. My country of birth was a British colony but it became independent in 1973.

The Bahamas still has Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, and its parliament is modelled on Westminster.

It’s good when countries are friends because there are no more wars between them. Britain helps people in other countries and also works with other governments for example in the G20. The UK is one of the United Nations’ founding members, and it was the fifth largest contributor to the UN’s budget in 2014.

Our country is generally viewed very positively by people around the world. The Anholt GfK Nations Brand Index ranks 50 nations each year according to a survey among 20,000 people in 20 countries. In 2016 the UK retained third place as a nation brand, behind only the USA and Germany.

At the seaside I eat ice cream, make sandcastles and swim in the sea
 by Tumi Yenwo

I’m Tumi and I’m 21. I go to the sea in the summer holidays with my family. I like having an ice cream when I’m there and my brothers like it too. My favourite flavour is strawberry ice cream with raspberry syrup.

The UK coastline is over 7000 miles long, which makes it five times longer than France’s coast. Beach holidays have a long history in our country, starting back in the 18th century, when doctors began prescribing seaside visits for health reasons. Cheap flights these days mean more people go abroad for their holidays but a trip to one of our own beaches is still a yearly summer activity for many families. In 2016 domestic and day trip coastal tourism was worth £8 billion to the UK economy.

Britain = old traditions and modern values
 by Jonathan Russell-Hall and Marista Tsioupra-Lewis

I’m Jonathan and I’m 19. I think the Queen sets a positive example to people, and she’s a good person to represent our country around the world. I like her, and I like Prince William too.

Britain has updated its rules in many ways. For example in 2011 the law was changed so that sons and daughters of any future UK monarch have equal right to the throne, instead of giving precedence to a younger son over an elder daughter. Prince Harry and Prince William use social media and they have spoken out about mental health which would never have happened in previous generations.

Our royal family is here to stay. In a survey last year, 76% of people said they want Britain to remain a monarchy and 75% said the royal family has an important role to play in the future of Britain.

If you feel strongly about any of the issues above or want to share your own perspective on this topic, we’d love your feedback! Comment below, visit our Facebook page or tweet us to let us know your thoughts.

Remember: Exposure is always looking for young writers so if you feel strongly about something email

Our thanks to the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers
for making this project possible.




One Response to ‘Exposure Asks’ ARTiculate: What makes us British?

  1. Rhea October 27, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    This article gives a great break down of being British and the role Britain has in the world as a whole. I found it especially interesting to read the ideas broken down in a way easily accessible for teenagers. Despite the mound of factual information it was an interesting and intriguing read.


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