If you followed my series of ‘Year to live’ posts during this year you may have noticed that amongst the things I said I’d not do any more during this theoretical final year would be make any more films. I judged that I’d been involved in making them for long enough now and so I’d not give over any more of my precious days to making another one?

Well I’ve just finished making a film.

Charlie and Tina.
Charlie and Tina.

Here’s how it happened. The phone rang and someone working with someone I’d worked with in the past (this being the way most work arrives) said they’d like me to make them a film.

‘That’s unfortunate’ I replied ‘as I’m not making them any more.’ ‘Well that’s a shame as we only wanted you’ they came back. ‘You come particularly recommended and we only need it to be about twenty minutes. So do you think you could reconsider?’

‘No, I’m really done’ I said. ‘But what I could do is meet up and help you do a brief to find someone else. Because I can’t believe you really need anything that long. Nobody will watch twenty minutes!’

So after we’d arranged a place and time for that I put the phone down. And just as my partner Sarah’s chortling ‘They’ve got no chance of persuading you to do that’ I open up their website and my mind begins to change. So much so that as I get off the bus near Hamilton Square in Birkenhead a few days later I well know that they have every chance of persuading me to make their film.

A group of four of us then get talking about what they want and what I’m now doing now I’m not making films. I talk about my mentoring work and how much I’m enjoying not having to lug film equipment around. At which point one of them excuses herself for a minute to ring someone.

She returns, the conversation continues as we build up the brief of what they actually want. Then the young woman Katie has rung walks in.

‘Meet Charlie’ says Katie. ‘She’s a Peer Mentor here, specialises in working very closely with the people who come to us for help. As a mentor yourself she’d be particularly keen to work with you as she’s very keen to learn more about photography and how to make films. Plus, she’s got her own car so could help you with lugging all your stuff around.’

What could I say to that? So here’s the film me and Charlie then made. ‘Tina’s Story’

This is one woman’s story, and thank you so much Tina for having the courage to be so open and inspiring about what you’ve been through. But it tells the all too typical story of what it’s like to be homeless in Britain today and why organisations like the Wirral Churches’ Ark are vital not just for the well being of homeless people but also for their very survival in these harsh times.

As you’ll see if you watch the film it was made very quietly, with its three characters all in the room with me as we got their interviews done and the story told. After that day, me and Charlie spent another in and around Birkenhead and New Brighton filming the visuals to lay over the narrative.

Phil, Tina and Charlie making the film.
Phil, Tina and Charlie making the film inside the Wirral Ark.

We also got back together with a few Wirral Ark staff and made a more straightforward film about exactly what the organisation is for and what they do, which they’ll no doubt use on their own website.

But I especially wanted to show ‘Tina’s Story’ on here as I’m as pleased with it as anything else I’ve ever done. And Tina herself loves the film by the way. First time she saw it she was so pleased she rang her mother to come over to the Ark straight away and they both watched it again, together.

Published by Ronnie

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place: http://asenseofplace.com.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thank you, Ronnie. An inspiring film, and puts my own perceived problems into perspective. Good luck to Tina, and the Team.
    Have a happy Christmas if possible,

  2. I despair at the use of human interest stories generally as while they tend to adopt the “there for the grace of God go I” approach they acutely ignore the facts which tell a much wider story. For example Wirral has been lucky in having the Ark for many years compared to other places that don’t have shelters and ones that then became permanent. Wirral also has a high % of private landlords compared to Merseyside / Regional / National averages and also has a lowish rent differential between SRS and PRS rent levels. In short it has the context that does aid single homeless persons with more permanent accommodation as opposed to the usual comparator of the housing commentariat i.e.London – or London, London, Bloody London whose atypical and perverse housing variables drive housing comentary and housing policy.

    We need so much more than individual human interest stories, that while often very good, can easily be dismissed as exceptions to the rule when the facts reveal they are not.

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