Headteacher defends Hartlepool and praises town’s young people following Skint Britain’s negative portrayal
A headteacher at a Hartlepool secondary school has hit out at the perception of the town in the recent Skint Britain series and urged young people to embrace the area.
Mark Tilling, headteacher at High Tunstall College of Science, said the recent Channel 4 programme Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits, painted Hartlepool in a negative light which could impact young people in the area.
However, he said pupils at his school were keen to get pride back into Hartlepool and urged the town to share its success stories.
It comes as the Love Hartlepool campaign has been launched by the council to combat the negative picture painted of the town in the three-part TV show.
Mr Tilling made the comments following a presentation by pupils at the school to Hartlepool Borough Council Children’s Services Committee titled ‘making a difference in Hartlepool’.
He said: “The biggest worry for me is, we’ve got thousands of young people in this town, but how many actually want to be here and want to stay here.
“We want them to be back here, we want the young people to drive the economy and be the future leaders of Hartlepool.
“With all the bad publicity we’ve had over the last few weeks with the whole programme on Channel 4, these young people are affected by that, and actually their esteem is affected.
“What they’re saying to us is we need to get pride back into the town.
“These guys want to be part of that and I’m sure young people in every school in the town will want to take that forward.
“It’s about taking people’s success stories and sharing them far and wide.”
The three-part Skint Britain series looked at how people in the town have been affected by the Government’s new Universal Credit system.
In recent weeks following the broadcast, the council-led ‘Love Hartlepool’ campaign has been launched to celebrate and share all things good about the town.
Year 11 pupil Theo Corbett, one of a group of pupils from the school who attended the council children’s services committee, gave reasons why he was proud to be from the town.
He said: “I like the community feeling. Everybody knows each other. In the community you feel like you fit in and you feel like there’s people you can go and talk to.”
During their presentation to the committee the pupils involved praised the town and encouraged people to go out and embrace the community and speak to people, including trying to spend less time on social media.
Theo said: “We need to be positive about Hartlepool and we need to start being proud of Hartlepool. It’s got a tight knit community where everyone knows each other and it’s the perfect time to capture this moment and make the most of it.
“We need to get the ball rolling, start some momentum and get everything going.”
Joshua, also in Year 11, said: “People have stopped talking to each other. People have stopped thinking and reflecting on what they’ve done.
“People need to start being more creative, with social media it’s sort of lost everyone’s ability to think for themselves.”
Pupils also raised the idea of a ‘switch off and connect day’ where people will stay off their mobile phones for a full day and take part in activities with each other.
Councillors praised the contributions of the pupils and said it is good news for the future of the town.
Coun Brenda Harrison said: “It’s home, it’s a wonderful town and we need to rejoice in it and we need to rejoice in our young people who have given us every opportunity to do that.
“We want more young people involved. The young people can have a voice and it’s so important. Young people are our future, if we don’t invest in them, if we don’t listen to them, we’re not going to have a future, or it’s going to be a bleak future.”
Coun Shane Moore said: “It’s really encouraging to see you yourselves [the pupils] are wanting to take ownership of your town and your local area.
“We need our residents and our young people to buy into the same positive image that we have.”
Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service