Teresa Cairns

I am a researcher, consultant and trainer, film maker and life/oral historian.

I started teaching apprentices and secretarial students – including the first YOPS/TOPS trainees – on Tyneside in the 1970s. I later worked in the Adult Literacy Movement in London, with ex-prisoners, homeless/hostel dwellers and with Travellers; I collaborated with organisations such as the Maternity Alliance in Whitechapel to support advocacy work amongst women across ethnicities. Read more

Teresa's Recent Work

Craven Vale [Jane's plot]

 

The third in a series of short films about Craven Vale Allotment Site, on the eastern edge of Brighton, UK.
The site has been identified as potential development land for housing, in the Urban Fringe Assessment for Brighton’s City Plan.
Brighton council have been required by central government to undertake an extended consultation process, during which we will continue filming.
These films will capture peoples’ stories of growing, and the value they attach to green spaces on the urban fringe.

Under the Same Roof

 

Under the Same Roof looks at four different housing coops in Brighton and the ways in which they provide security and control over people’s housing needs, in an increasingly hostile housing environment dominated by private landlords.

Something in the Silence

Something in the Silence explores the stories of three individuals, all survivors of suicide, who continue to live with the stigma.

Emma, Kenny, and Jean talk about the silence surrounding suicide and the need to be heard, the need for people to listen, not to judge.

This film is a re-working of three individual films we made in 2013.

Craven Vale (the Carers Plot)

 

The second in a series of short films about Craven Vale Allotment Site on the eastern edge of Brighton, UK.
The films address the stewardship of green spaces, set against tensions surrounding housing needs in the broader political context of the Urban Fringe Assessment for Brighton’s City Plan.

City plans are part of the government’s national planning framework; ostensibly about local control the framework effectively gives central government more power over local planning decisions.

 

Craven Vale

 

The first in a series of short films about Craven Vale Allotment Site, on the eastern edge of Brighton, UK. These films will capture peoples’ stories of growing, and the value they attach to green spaces on the urban fringe.
The site has been identified as potential development land for housing, in the Urban Fringe Assessment for Brighton’s City Plan. There will now be an extended consultation process during which we will continue filming.

City plans are part of the government’s national planning framework; ostensibly about local control, the framework effectively gives central government more power over local planning decisions.

An Apple Day

 

Continuing our short films about Whitehawk Community Food Project, in Brighton.
We haven’t been to the project for a while so we couldn’t miss Apple Day, especially with a load of apples from our own apple tree to press.

No Place Like Home

 

‘No Place Like Home’ tells the story of Paul, an ex-rough sleeper, coming off the street, and tackling anxiety and addiction. The film is situated in this shifting and uncertain space between the familiarity of street sleeping and the challenges faced in trying to lead an ‘ordinary life’.

No Place Like Home

In No Place Like Home we tell the story of Paul, an ex-rough sleeper, coming off the street, and tackling anxiety and addiction. The film is situated in this shifting and uncertain space between the familiarity of street sleeping and the challenges faced in trying to lead an ‘ordinary life’.

And the stories we are told? Brief glimpses, nothing more. We begin with no expectations, no storyboarded ideas of what it’s like to be on the street for years, to be long-term rough sleeping. Sometimes arrangements are made, changed, rearranged then cancelled: Paul’s is a chaotic life. We talk, listen, allowing experiences to unfold, although often not in any ordered sense. We know the value of being guided, as we attempt to tease out the narrative strands of a life, to fashion these scattered threads in the process of editing. The stories we hear, brief as they are, circulate around school as a site of conflict, care from an early age, substance use, prison, life on the street. Paul talks about the freedom, ‘Well not freedom, really,’ talks about being shunned, becoming isolated, invisible, but also about small kindnesses. We sit in a doorway off Oxford Street and he speaks of the generosity of passing strangers, but also about the arbitrary acts of abuse and violence. ‘It happens,’ he says. ‘It’s just something that happens, that’s all I can say about that.’ We discuss coming off the street, how his life is changing, and that old habits, old coping mechanisms essential on the street, are now no longer useful. Paul knows these changes come painfully slow. During the six months we’ve spent together we’ve witnessed breaks and ruptures along the way, watched Paul waver, vacillate between the certainty and security of substance use and the unsettling uncertain present. Resilience is a key factor in this process.

Over the months we fall into a routine: after filming, the material is replayed, he listens, watches and we talk about what has been said, what more is needed. This agreement is essential, the same for everyone we work with, to take all material back and talk it through before we move on. People talk, and in the process, may say more than they mean to; we’re aware of over-disclosure, of sensitive issues, raw memories re-surfacing in the conversations, of the need for people to have some control over this process.

This film continues our exploration of homelessness and senses of belonging first encountered in our work with Catch 22 and their resettlement programme.

In Passing

 

This short film, seen through the prism of a fractured and partial narrative, reflects and refracts the ruptures in the world of these young people’s immediate families and the wider social network they inhabit. The film forms part of a larger Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) & Royal Society of the Arts (RSA) funded Research Fellowship in Peterborough: Places For All? placesforall.co.uk. (See  Some Kind of Life)

In Passing-essay

We wrote the following short essay as a reflection on our final filmwork for the AHRC/RSA project. It’s an exploration of the processes we go through during interviewing and filming, in an attempt to start unravelling what actually happens when you work ethnographically. The people mentioned had or still live in Peterborough Foyer, supported housing for young people in the city. We pose questions here, we don’t presume to know the answers.

In Passing