Young Londoners depict food insecurity in a new series of Stories by Young Voices films

Two young Londoners face camera backed by Mayor's Fund for London branding
14th February 2024

The second instalment of Stories by Young Voices series has launched two new films. Created by young Londoners, Sara Taleghani and Yasmin Siddiqa Amin, ‘Out of Reach’ and ‘Chicken Estate’ show the effects of food insecurity in the city. 

The Stories by Young Voices series is a unique collaboration between the Citi Foundation and the Mayor’s Fund for London (MFL) that commissions Creativity Works alumni to produce meaningful and engaging content about young people in relation to a particular theme or topic. The commissions provide the young creatives with a paid grant to support them throughout the production of the films. The films can then be used as portfolio and showreel pieces to further assist the creatives in breaking into the sector and gaining further work. Following on from a successful series one the collaboration continued for a second series. 

Directed by Sara Taleghani ‘Out of Reach’ sees a young woman navigate this current climate of food insecurity, as well as soaring domestic bills. Experimental visuals blur reality and surrealism into one haunting repetition of emptiness, as the lead’s now unaffordable basic needs become a recurrent worsening nightmare eating away at her. 

Sara says: “I wanted to draw from my experiences and how I felt mentally during the peak of the cost of living crisis, when I was out of a job and struggling to keep on top of finances. It’s something everyone’s been affected by to some degree – food insecurity in particular affects a lot of young people, with 6% of households reporting not having eaten for a whole day because of it – and yet we still feel embarrassed to talk about it. So I was very keen to make a piece that raises awareness and that young people can relate to.” 

“It’s particularly meaningful that my directorial debut involves making a film for the Mayor’s Fund for London, as I’m an alumna of its Creativity Works programme, which played a crucial role in opening doors for me in the industry.” 

‘Chicken Estate’ is a drama-comedy based on the life of writer and director Yasmin Amin, depicting the life of a young East Londoner. Mej is wondering how she will afford her next meal and is unable to communicate her needs to friends. We see food being taken for granted and wasted around Mej while she goes hungry. It is a film full of humour, friendship, heart, and hope.  

Yasmin says: “Creating ‘Chicken’ was a labour of love for me because it is in many ways my story. I lived in a youth hostel from ages 18 to 20, and often I did not know how I would afford the next meal. For a young person who lives in food insecurity, it is a constant fear that if you get found out that you will be isolated from your peers, forgotten by society, and end up on the streets. Food insecurity is a deeply personal thing, which is why it is important to tell Mej’s story.” 

Speaking about the Creativity Works programme Yasmin says: “I joined the Creativity Works programme at a time when I was feeling discouraged as a creative and I wanted to explore more of my artistic side in a space that supported me. On the programme I made a 60-second documentary Tik Tok. The training programme improved my confidence in myself as an artist and storyteller. Using just a phone and editing software to make the short, it made me aware of my capabilities when I had limited access to equipment.” 

The films were premiered at MFL’s London Food and Communities Summit. An event that brought together providers, youth organisations, funders, local Authorities and young people, all sharing learning and knowledge to ensure that every young Londoner has access to nutritious food, safe spaces and opportunities to thrive. Both films were played ahead of panel discussions which featured Sara and Yasmin discussing their motivations for making the films and experiences of food insecurity in the city.  

Watch the films on YouTube.

Both Sara and Yasmin completed the MFL’s Creativity Works employability programme which supports young Londoners with the skills and connections to employers they need and access to opportunities within creative industries. The programme is supported by the Citi Foundation and delivered by MFL, partnering with A New Direction and Media Trust. To learn more about the programme and what’s on offer from our two delivery partners, visit the Creativity Works webpage.