Comic Relief funds new scouse image rs' new ima research

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The Independent Online
THE STEREOTYPICAL image of a "scouser" - epitomised by sketches on Harry Enfield's television show - is to be challenged by a youth theatre group.

Yellow House, a youth company on Merseyside, has been awarded pounds 46,000 by Comic Relief, which is better known for aiding famine-stricken communities in Africa.

The grant came after the group told the charity that it wanted to prove there is more to Liverpool than curly perms, dole cheats and lay-abouts in shell-suits.

The youth theatre will use the money to fund two researchers who will gather material from television and newspapers which portrays Liverpudlians in a negative light.

That will lead to theatre and television pieces performed by Yellow House's youngsters, aimed at challenging such stereotypes.

One of the researchers, Bernie Greenough, 22, said: "We want to reclaim the city for Liverpool people. There has been a lot of negative media about the area and we want to redress the balance."

He stressed that while they believed the city and its people often received a bad press, they were not singling out Harry Enfield for his comic characters.

"He writes sketches about people from all over Britain and from all walks of life, not just Liverpool," said Mr Greenough, from the city's Old Roan area.

"Also through his work with Comic Relief it has made money and now some of that cash has been given to Yellow House, so why would we criticise him?

"We are simply trying to produce a piece of work that shows the good things about Liverpool. We haven't got a chip on our shoulders but we have been easy targets in the past and now we are going to gather evidence which shows that."

A spokeswoman for Comic Relief said the Yellow House project was selected because the grants were aimed at helping people who are working to help themselves.

She added: "We believe in empowering people to live their lives in the way they want. The group involves young people and their parents are also often involved. They do some wonderful work.

"It is difficult for young people growing up in areas where such stereotypes exist. It must be quite easy to become disillusioned and more difficult to hold on to ambitions when being bombarded with negative images.

"Through their work at Yellow House, young people will be able to challenge these prejudices and develop self-confidence."

Comic Relief raised more than pounds 27 million in its last fund-raising drive. Two-thirds of the cash goes to African projects while the rest is distributed to initiatives for the disadvantaged in Britain.

Yellow House was set up in 1986 and involves youngsters aged 13 and upwards.