Home Lifestyle Entertainment VIDEO: Shout London festival makes successful return

VIDEO: Shout London festival makes successful return

By David Hennessy

Shout London, the annual mental health film and arts festival, returned to The Kiln Theatre in Kilburn and The Crown Hotel in Cricklewood for the second time in October.

Held on 10 and 11 October to coincide with world mental health day, the event included films, live performance, poetry and discussions on everything mental health related before concluding with a red carpet gala at the Crown Hotel.

It has already been confirmed Shout London will return on 9 and 10 October 2024 with the organisers also announcing the inaugural Shout Liverpool early in 2024.

Carey Fitzgerald who established the festival told The Irish World: “We can’t believe the support that we’ve had for this event. It’s been fabulous.

“We now are about to launch Shout Liverpool and we’re going to be building from there.

“We’ve had enquiries about Shout Melbourne so people from other countries are getting in touch, so it’s going to be global.

“It’s really brilliant.

“Everyone is talking about mental health. That’s the most important thing.”

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Radio 4 Broadcaster Peter Curran presented the festival.

Peter told us: “It’s gone brilliantly from the point of view of hearing amazing life stories, lived experience from campaigners, artists, musicians.

“That sort of breadth of human experience and wisdom coming off a lot of the contributors has been a real eye opener for this cynical old journalist.

“It’s a real privilege because you’re dealing with people who are being very open and telling their difficult personal life stories.

“So it was a real privilege to be involved in it.

“This had an awful lot of personal resonance for me, particularly coming from Ireland. Some of the stories interlocked with the difficulties my own family had faced and perhaps didn’t talk about an awful lot in previous generations, so I came away from the festival with a lot of food for thought really about my own life.”

The event kicked off at the Kiln on Tuesday with actress, singer, dancer & writer Maria McAteer performing scenes from her one-woman show The Guinness Girl with Alice Beadle on the violin.

This was followed by Ben Akers’ feature documentary looking into the mental health of young people, Our Kids Our Lives, for what was it’s UK Premiere screening.

Ben Akers told The Irish World: “It’s really, really great to be here to be in such a supportive environment.

“We’re trying to create conversation because it’s a subject we don’t want to talk about.

“We don’t want to think about suicide and mental ill health in children.

“But suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50. In reality, it’s the biggest killer of males from nine to 50.

“You don’t want to think about a nine year old taking his own life but this is happening.”

Our Kids followed Ben’s previous film Steve which was about a friend who took his own life.

“It was after the suicide of my childhood best friend, a bloke called Steve Yates and I realised that he wasn’t a number. He wasn’t a statistic. He was a friend, he was a father, he was a son, he was a brother.

“What we wanted to do was try and save the next Steve.”

Ben established the Talk Club community to get men talking.

“We’re trying to build a community of men to connect with each other.

“Men have the biggest rates of suicide- A man dies every 90 minutes in the UK but if we can get there even earlier, if we can get young men and young women even earlier to start opening up about how they’re feeling, then hopefully we can start attacking the suicide rates and we can start getting them down. “

Sacha Wood performing.

Sobriety Films’ Maddie Kitchen screened her short film Say Something, which explores a teenager’s journey through alcohol dependence and mental ill health while navigating school.

Maddie Kitchen told The Irish World: “It’s been an absolutely amazing day, absolutely thrilled to show Niamh’s film. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

“Everybody that works at Sobriety Films has lived experience. They’re in recovery from addiction, mental health, or trauma, or all of them. We exist to give people a voice who don’t have a voice.

“I think this kind of festival is really important because it’s community, but it’s also wider than that.

“It’s awareness raising, and then de-stigmatizing.

“It’s an amazing celebration.”

The singer-songwriter-musician Sacha Wood, whose mother comes from Dublin, performed some of her music.

Both Sacha and Maria McAteer have lived experience of Depersonalisation Personality Disorder, which they discussed with Peter Curran on stage.

Maria McAteer told The Irish World: “I really enjoyed it. It was lovely working with Alice Beadle and and talking to Sasha.

“She’s actually the first person that I’ve ever met who has had the same DPDR, so it was amazing talking to her and comparing notes and realizing that we’ve been through similar things. Some of the lyrics in her songs I really identified with. It was just fantastic to meet and connect with somebody who’s gone through the same things.

“It (DPDR) didn’t have a label then, it didn’t have a name.

“I thought that I was going insane. I couldn’t explain it to anybody. The doctors didn’t even know what it was then.

“I can’t even imagine what it might have been like if I’d met Sasha back then.”


Like Maria, Sacha had also never met anyone with the same rare disorder.

Sacha said: “I’ve loved it.

“It’s just been really cool to get to perform and in the context of something that really means a lot to me, mental health and mental health awareness.

“It’s the first time that I’ve really properly spoken out about it (DPDR), so this was amazing to be able to be on stage and with someone else who knows exactly what the feeling is and just talk about it with such a welcoming and understanding and attentive audience and atmosphere as well.

“Just knowing that you’re not alone is such a key step forward to solving things or being able to cope with them or accepting them, accepting yourself. It’s just so crucial.”

Maria McAteer with the actor Francis Magee.

Poet Wendy Young recited a number of lively poems and day one at the Kiln was rounded off with more inspirational poetry and a conversation with record producer and musician Ronald Amanze who spoke about living with dementia.

Day two at The Crown had a focus on neurodiversity. The audience enjoyed an art and poetry exhibition from resident artists, including multi-media artist Yasmin Nicholas who also screened her short film Shells without an Echo and then discussed her PCOS and mental health with Dominique Murphy-de Neef.

Yasmin told us: “It feels wonderful to be in this festival, being able to be around a lot of people who have been able to express their situations through art through poetry through music as well.

“It gives that lovely warm feeling of knowing that whatever the issues are, whatever your situations are- different mental health situations- just to know that you’re not alone is wonderful.

“I can’t wait for what Shout’s going to do next.
“We need more of this as well.”

Two films on the subject of eating disorders were screened, including the short documentary presented by Shout London’s patron, star of stage and screen Michelle Collins. Michelle is also the Patron of PEDS (Personalised Eating Disorder Support), the Peterborough based charity offering support for those dealing with the condition.

Michelle Collins told The Irish World: “It’s great to be back a second year and see the festival get bigger and better. It’s fantastic.

“I’ve been a patron of an eating disorder charity called PEDS for a long, long time. I had an eating disorder when I was very young and I managed to kind of deal with it, but I think there are so many people, men and women, suffering from eating disorders particularly more since lockdown and it’s something that really needs to be addressed.

“I think a lot of people don’t think it’s as bad as it is, it can be fatal.

“We really need to kind of kind of try and understand it.

“It doesn’t have to mean death for people. If they get the right treatment, they can live a good life.

“It is just so important that we will look after our mental health.

“We need to talk more. It’s communication, not feeling ashamed to tell people how you’re feeling and to bring it out in the open.

“When I was much younger, people didn’t talk like they do now so it’s very, very important.”

The short film Disordered by Alice Wallis was also screened, which showed the effects on a family when one member is suffering from an eating disorder.

Emily Highams, who stars in Disordered, told The Irish World: “I’m very happy to be here. It’s just been so incredible.

“It’s incredible how everyone’s come together to portray this message and how people are so open about their struggles, which I think is literally the best way, people coming out to share their own troubles and reach out for help. Because you see other people doing it, it inspires you to do it so it’s been absolutely wonderful.”

Emily revealed that she has seen other people struggle with eating disorders so she felt a great deal of responsibility taking on the role.

“I didn’t want to be disrespectful to anyone, because that would literally be the last thing I’d ever want to do.

“Having two people very close to me go through it and seeing the damage it had done to them, it made me really sad and I wanted to do them justice.

“If there’s anyone out there, even if it’s just one person that I have managed to somehow help by connecting with this role, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.”

Poetry was performed by Janet Reeve who discussed depression, acceptance and creating space with Peter Curran.

Joshua Nunn also recited his poetry and joined a neurodivergence discussion on ADHD with Dominique Murphy-de Neef (both of whom have lived ex-perience of ADHD) and Peter Curran.

This was followed by a music video screening of Talk it Out by Neil Avery and Nigel Planer – a lively chat followed on neurodiversity, creativity and mental health with Neil Avery, mental health campaigner Jon Salmon and Peter Curran, who continued the conversation with the resident artists.

Neil Avery said: “I really loved it today, really enjoyed it. It was such a joy hearing people’s stories and backgrounds and other things that I’m not aware of. I think that when you start talking to people, you notice there’s a lot of similarities and it’s very humbling.”

Jon Salmon said: “It feels great to be here again for the second year of Shout London.

“It’s absolutely jam packed of things to look at and to listen and to be a part of it. It’s been wonderful today.

“We need festivals like this, because it’s bringing creative people together, it’s breaking down the stigma that exists around different things whether it’s mental health, neuro diversity, trauma. There’s been a lot of things discussed today.

“And festivals like this, you’re seeing the talent first. You’re not seeing the struggle that we all sometimes suffer and I think that’s what’s so wonderful about Shout London.”

The festival was rounded off with a discussion with Sean Kaluarachchi, who works in the London Irish Centre’s Survivors Service, which supports survivors of Mother & Baby & County Homes in advance of the upcoming redress scheme. He discussed his own work with Peter Curran along with some of his own personal understanding of trauma and abuse. Sean then closed the festival with his singing whilst playing the acoustic guitar as he is also an accomplished musician who performs around London, Liverpool and his home city of Belfast.

Sean said: “It’s just a great initiative.

“Music is another link to my dad. With everything he went through in the Troubles, his one escape was playing music.

“He said while the riots and everything was going on outside his doorstep, he would just plug in his guitar and just batter away.

“I tried to carry that on, it’s good for my mental health.

“I would really would love to see the festival continue and expand and I’d be a supporter of this festival in any way I could in years going forward because there’s not enough festivals like this that really provide a voice to people suffering from mental health and those who advocate for those who suffer from mental health, so long may it continue.”

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