The People’s Podium is a free space for communities across the country, who may not get recognised by the local headlines to let their voices be heard.

The idea aims to build up confidence through supportive workshops, facilitators and filmmakers to help people in the community deliver a speech at the People’s Podium. They want people to express their hopes and dreams about the future of their community.

Recently, the People’s Podium paid a virtual visit to Teesside, where the residents from Redcar and Cleveland used it to voice the community’s opinion and what hopes it holds for it after the pandemic. This event was organised in collaboration with the Festival of the Thrift.

All of the residents who took part wrote a speech about an issue close to their hearts, which was delivered at The People’s Podium. All the speeches were recorded over zoom, but the physical podium will be coming to Redcar and Cleveland when restrictions lift, giving the people another chance to share their story.

For a lot of people who took part, it was their first time making a speech. We spoke to some of the people who participated in the event about what their experience was like. 

Charlotte expressed how important the speech was to her. “Giving the speech was nerve-wracking, but I was excited for people to hear what I had to say and proud to tell my story.”

For Charlotte, the whole experience was out of her comfort zone and a new experience for her. “I had never done any public speaking before, and I’d never even used Zoom, so it was all new to me, and very scary.”  

Pushing herself with the topic of her speech, Charlotte decided to speak about how young girls’ interests are invalidated. “I’m glad that I chose to speak on this, as I think it’s something that would be beneficial for people to think on and discuss,” she told me. 

A lot of different residents from Redcar and Cleveland took part, including Julie who is a poet. She felt that the People’s Podium gave her the opportunity for her working-class voice to be heard. “The People’s Podium was a perfect platform to express my frustrations at the inequalities in British society, which directly affect Teesside,” she said. 

Julie also praised the team for how organised the whole event was. “The whole process was very organised, from initial contact to the workshop to the final recording of the speech,” she said, “I felt supported throughout, and that meant I was very relaxed when recording the speech.”

Beth Hodgson, an ambassador, expressed how thankful she was for being involved in the event. “With the ambassador work that I do, I thought it would be really good to be a part of it.” 

During the workshops, there was a range of activities for each speaker to get involved with. “We did an exercise on writing down the thoughts that come inside your mind and writing them down in a notebook,” Beth told me. Which for her helped her to get her thoughts flowing.

Beth found the workshops brilliant and beneficial. “The lady who was doing the workshop gave us lots of advice on how to write it, but it was your own words about what you wanted to put out there,” she told me. 

Overall, the residents that took part had a positive experience. 

You can listen to the speeches on the People’s Podium YouTube channel.

For more information about The Peoples Podium, you can visit their website

The People’s Podium is a national project and will be touring the UK this year. The next stop will be Leicester.

Photo credit – The People’s Podium

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