Opinion

Turn homeless people's stories into the next Harry Potter

School pupil Ian Elder says that today's story-makers should fictionalise accounts of homelessness to engage a young audience

Child reading Harry Potter book

As a GCSE student in a liberal secondary school, I was inspired to reach out to you. Personally, I believe that young people, myself included, are especially guilty of gently ignoring the problem of poverty while busy living our own lives. What can young people do to help?

School students may make up 20 per cent of our population, but they are 100 per cent of our future. Between the ages of 10 through 16, our morality is moulded and if we create an environment where kids grow up aware and empathising with poverty at a young age, maybe the future isn’t so bleak.

If kids grow up empathising with poverty at a young age, maybe the future isn’t so bleak

As children we have all been fascinated by dolls and cars and stuffed animals, and we obsessed over fairytales and Disney films. Young consumer culture now is largely based on children’s love of fiction. We know this because of the incredible rise in popularity of the fantasy and science-fiction genre in film and books in late decades, driven by franchises like The Hunger Games, Star Wars and Harry Potter.

The fictionalisation of dictatorship, corrupt governments as well as abuses of power is prevalent in the majority of bestsellers in YA and blockbusters for kids and teens. I find these popular stories are often paralleled in the daily lives of the homeless, and their constant battle for survival.

  • As part of The Big Issue Platform, we are inviting people from all strands of society to tell us what can be done about homelessness. Get in touch @BigIssue

People would much rather hear about the fictional war between galactic armies than people without homes fighting for their very existence.

But if we recruited story-makers to tell their lives in the form of books specifically tailored to the young consumer, with their journeys of recovery from abuse or broken childhoods disguised as a cosmic drama, or their anecdotes of surviving the street amongst gangs and drug dealers as a make-believe tale with dragons and black magic, that will sculpt the young consumer into a more compassionate person, aware of their neighbours.

The newly inspired compassion could extend to other parts of the society, the victims of addiction, violence, discrimination and other ailments of humanity.

Join The Ride Out Recession Alliance

The Ride Out Recession Alliance (RORA) will develop and implement practical steps and solutions to prevent families losing their homes, and help people remain in employment.

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