Eva Edo wants to give a voice to mothers who have been impacted by youth violence.
Photograph: courtesy Eva Edo

A prize-winning playwright has put out a call to mothers in Hackney who have felt the impact of youth violence as she searches for real-life experiences that will inform a new creative project.

Eva Edo, a writer for stage and screen, tells stories which celebrate the lives of young people and women. She recently won the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) Matters Award to develop a A Mother’s Courage, a play that will explore both youth violent crime through the eyes of mothers, and what it is like to raise sons in Britain today.

As part of her research, Eva, a mother herself, wants to speak to Hackney mums whose sons have been victims, perpetrators or witnesses of youth violence.

She told the Citizen: “It feels as though society is numb to youth violence. I want to give mothers a voice, and put them at the heart of a play.”

One mother already involved is Tracey Ford, whose son James was shot and killed in front of 300 people at Streatham Ice Arena in 2007. He was 17 years old. Tracey later set up the JAGS Foundation, an acronym of James Andre Godfrey Smartt-Ford, to help educate and empower young people across South London.

Eva is hoping that mums in Hackney, and others in the capital, will join Tracey in sharing their experiences with her.

She added: “I need help with the project. I’d like to identify mothers who want to be involved. Initially, I’ll conduct interviews over the phones, and will keep to social distancing guidelines.

“I’ll share more details about the level of commitment needed with mothers who express an interest, and anyone who gets involved will be offered gift card vouchers as a thank you.”

On why mums should take part, she said: “The project is about giving a voice to mothers. So if you’re a mother who has been impacted by youth violence and feel voiceless, this is your chance to be heard.

“It’s an opportunity to say what you want to say about how youth violent crime affects you and society. A chance to meet other mothers who may share your experiences. A chance to be involved and influence a creative project which has mothers at its heart.”

Speaking directly to those who have stories to share, she went on: “I’m really interested in you and your experiences. This is not about me wanting to say something, it’s about you telling me what you want to say so I can tell others.”

Asked what inspired her to pitch A Mother’s Courage, Eva responded: “My love of being a mother and my interest in what happens to our youth. Along with the concern I have about what I describe as the ‘silent loss’ of young lives to youth violent crime.”

In the future, she is hopeful of adapting the play for the screen.

Mothers who choose to get involved are in good hands. Eva has been writing for a number of years while juggling motherhood. Her play Looked After Children was shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award in 2015, and last year she was commissioned to write a celebratory piece about and with refugee and asylum experienced women. Earlier this year, Eva performed her show Tiger Mum at Vault Festival.

Eva added: “I’d also like to say thanks to the Royal Society of Literature for supporting this project through the RSL Literature Matters Awards. Without them, this project would not be happening.”

If you’d like to be involved in A Mother’s Courage, or want more information about confidentiality, please email Eva at amotherscourage@gmail.com

For more information about Eva’s work, head to evaedo.com or follow her on Twitter at @evaedo_writer

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