“After completing my degree, I volunteered overseas with VSO which is a non-profit, international development organisation. I was working in the Philippines in a multicultural team of 18 as part of a community engagement project. While I was there several natural disasters hit the islands so we helped deliver relief aid to isolated communities. This was one of the most valuable experience of my life and by seeing how compassionate people can be when they’ve already lost so much has made me a much better and more grateful person.”

“Three years ago I started going to jail. My mum and step-dad said you have to stop getting in trouble otherwise we won’t be supporting you. My family is the most important thing to me. When I lost them it was like I lost everything. It was horrible being on my own. Everything goes down hill, you give up on everything and you start drinking and taking drugs. Now i’m starting to get it all back because i’m proving that can do the right thing.”

“When people see me they see what they hear in the press and that effects me and my whole family. I have to put a brave face. It’s just one thing after another. No one is listening to me. People see me drinking but they don’t know my background. I got a two years suspended sentence because I was carrying a toy gun I brought for my son. He is only two and a half. Then they say you are lucky you didn’t get shot.”

“My wife has just come out of an accident. I’m going to get her right.”

“My greatest challenge has been getting over the bad history I had when I was as a kid with a bad parent coming into my life and ruining everything. Dealing with all those emotions and feelings they left me with. Getting over that anger and frustration, realising you don’t actually need to carry that baggage around with you at all. Just be yourself and you don’t need anyone to tell you differently about who are.”

“It is painful to see other people suffering and not being able to help. In Mozambique I met children who didn’t have any food or clothing. They were taken to an orphanage where there was a priest who was meant to be looking after these children and he was basically abusing them. We made recordings, took pictures, made videos and went to the press. There were people who said we don’t want to hear anything about this and we might as well leave the country because bad things could happen to us. I felt useless because I couldn’t help anyone. It is always at the back of my mind. I try to help the community where I am but if I can go back at some point, I will.”

“I’m a young mum, I had my son when I was eighteen. I dropped out of sixth form and faced so much discrimination from everyone. I didn’t want this for me, I decided I was going to continue. I went back to college and got As in my A-Levels and went to Oxford University to study English. Achieving that for me was a huge deal. It proved to myself that I had the strength to do that and I wasn’t going to get bogged down with the negative stigma thrown around young mums. What I really wanted to do is help people heal themselves. I went back to college to do A-Level in chemistry and biology and now I’m going to UCL. I start on Monday. I’m super excited.”

“My son was taken off me in 2002 and my daughter about four years ago. It was very painful. I had a breakdown and the police came to take her away. She was 18 months old. It absolutely tore me apart.”

 

“My mum left me at my dad’s doorstep when I was six weeks old. I know it sounds shocking but it was just around the corner from my house. My gran brought me up and I had to deal with that hurt. I still love my mum. Seven years ago, I was dying for TB of the bone, in my back. Every day I have to take twelve tablets a day, including pain killers. No matter what my pains are, God never sends me more than I can take. I’m still here.”

 

“I don’t have a job at the moment but I haven’t started looking yet.”

“From the age of nine I had already witnessed two people, who were very close to me, die. One of them was my best mate who was just happening to take a short cut by jumping over a wall. As he was doing so, his record bag wrapped around him and he broke his neck straight away. The other was my neighbour and a friend’s mother that died from breast cancer. I realised the world wasn’t the nice happy place you are led to believe as a child, people die. The one thing it made me do was lose my faith. Now I’m an atheist. My experience has had a profound effect on who I am today and how I look at life.”

“My family are all dead, right now”

“I came from Kashmir when I was 18 years old and had to adapt to a new culture and language very quickly. I worked six days a week as a cab driver, attended English classes and took care of my family. It was very tough. Becoming Mayor was extremely challenging but I wanted to give back to the people who gave so much to me.”

“They amputated my legs and now I suffer from phantom limb pain. I come out the shower and have an itchy foot. Then I remember I have no leg.”

“Funfairs are very much part of our English heritage. It is sad to see less people using them. If this keeps up, I don’t think they will exist. Another issue is the way people perceive us. There are a lot of people, who think we are part of the traveler community and call us all sorts of names. We are professional showman and very proud of it.”

 

“It can be painful when people betray your trust.”

“I like to drink but I also like to recycle. I sometimes look for garbage and put it into bins. It’s a hobby of mine.”

“I had to fight.”

“I use to be an actor. Now I have cancer. They opened up my stomach and put a bag inside.”

“I almost died. I had meningitis. I had to build myself back up from scratch. Mind and body.”

“Make peace, not war.”

“I am worried about being perceived negatively. Islam has the wrong image. It is much better than what people think it is. I feel people are going to judge me as soon as they look at me. They are going to think she’s backwards because she’s following a religion, she must not have her own mind. People think I’m oppressed, I don’t have my own opinion or I don’t know how to stand up for myself. I can do all of that. I am educated and am like any other girl. I choose to look like this.”

“At my previous job, they always asked me to train up the new people. The new starters always went on to become my managers. I wondered, when would I get the chance?”

“I remember the day my mother picked me up from primary school. I remember playing chase and having so much fun. I wanted to stay and keep playing. My teachers kept telling me I had to be a strong boy for mum.”

“I am from Sri Lanka. My dad’s name is Austin and my mum’s name is Nirmala. I haven’t seen my parents for six years. I used to have friends back home but here I am alone. I am working hard.”

“My country, in Poland, I have four babies. Two sons and two girls. I love you finish with wife. For six years I have no contact. No speak. Working in Reading, building house and job finish. No money, no contact. No I love you. Big problem.”