Young People’s Voices: The Dark Waters of Portsmouth

Image courtesy of Zoë Ingram.

Continuing our new series of stories from our Young People’s Voice project – funded by Victorious Festival and supported by the University of Portsmouth – 17 year old student at Havant and South Downs College, Zoë Ingram, captures a poignant moment at Portsmouth harbour.

An oil colour palette is spilled over the lonely, desolate sky – accompanied only by the statuesque spires that hold up the blue gradient lining. A tranquil atmosphere surrounds the cool bodies of people who huddle in their oversized hoodies and scarves. A gentle, almost blissful chill is swept over Portsmouth as the sun dies over the darkened shadow of a harbour.

Behind me, through the station entrance, eerie echoes of children’s laughter bounce off the marble walls as parents watch on, the disarray of crowds in the old station makes it impossible for a lone person to locate the source of the gleeful sounds. The ripples of life streamline into view as the next train pulls up towards the platform, ready to eject the tourists and homemakers of Portsmouth. With volume increasing, it’s almost impossible not to catch cliffhanger conversations – no context, only one sentence, but a strand of a single person’s life nevertheless. Magic in its own right.

Strangely, despite the sheer amount of crowds and the cacophony of noises being emitted – I look out onto the silhouettes of the boats glimmering off the sapphire waters and the overwhelming sense of loneliness – wanting to sail away – envelopes my mind.

As my mind wanders and my honey oak coloured eyes scan the coast, I picture slipping into the cold, empty water. The liquid would caress my skin and wrap its grip around my body; its powerful, welcoming arms bringing comfort to the long stretches of the harbour.

A clumsy child runs her scooter into my ankles and I snap out of my urge to jump in and swim – her mother smiling, embarrassed and apologetic. I nod and smile slightly and turn away to catch the train home.

But for that one moment, Portsmouth captured my heart.


The Young People’s Voices project aims to provide young people with a platform to share their opinions, report on topics that affect them and advance standards of literacy. We worked with students from St Edmunds School and Havant and South Downs College to investigate and write their own stories, in a variety of styles and mediums – from creative memoir and opinion pieces to their own investigations. All their work will be published on S&C throughout July, and all participants have the chance to enter their work into a competition to read their story on the Spoken Word Stage at the 2019 Victorious Festival. You will find all the Young People’s Voices stories here as we publish them.


This project is supported by the University of Portsmouth, with thanks to the teams in Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI). It was delivered by University of Portsmouth MSc and PhD researchers Maddie Wallace and Lauren Jones.