‘Laygate Stories’ is a multimedia project that portrays, in their own voices, the lives of a dozen people living and working in the Laygate area of South Shields on Tyneside, in the north-east of England. It is produced by David Campbell and Peter Fryer – Peter has been working in the area for more than a decade and did the research and the photography, David did the audio and video editing, and both worked on the interviews and the narrative.

The work is centred on the diverse community along Frederick Street and the Laygate area. This is a vibrant area made up of indigenous north-easterners, a long established Yemeni community – who were once migrants but now includes second and third generation British citizens – as well as people from Angola, Bangladesh, the Congo, Iran, Jordan, Palestine, Poland and Somalia.

Through existing contacts and friendships within the community, we are documenting the daily interactions of the different social groups that constitute this community. The work does not profess to be an all encompassing overview of the area but uses short photo-films to give people a platform to express their everyday thoughts, feelings and concerns, and to reflect on their place within the community.

This project builds on our earlier work in this area, especially the ten-minute photo film ‘The Boarding House‘. It is also inspired by The New York TimesOne in 8 Million‘ project, which uses sound and images to introduce characters in that city. Their purpose was to showcase “ordinary people telling extraordinary stories, of passions and problems, relationships and routines, vocations and obsessions.”

We have endeavoured to show the everyday, believing that this gives an insight into the extraordinary things people have to offer and the different histories they have to tell. We have also ensured that those who volunteered to speak are involved in the way their stories are produced.

The project is part of an Arts Council England funded commission (‘Homelands’) organised by the Side Gallery in Newcastle. We are grateful to the Side Gallery, the Arts Council England, and the Baring Foundation for support. Please get in touch if you have comments or feedback.