Our Commonwealth celebrates some of the many extraordinary people of Sandwell who give their time, energy, and support to help others in their community. 

Flmmakers Joseph Potts and Lauren Hatchard responded to the themes of the project in contrasting ways. 

Lauren’s film ‘Behind the Counter’ takes us into the lives of the Dhaliwal family who run St Mary’s News in Bearwood, telling the story of how they have served their community over many decades. Lauren says of her film, “This film is a celebration of the 35 years of running a shop but also captures the family legacy. The message of the film touches upon the notion that there are lots of small businesses with similar stories out there and it is in part an effort to acknowledge the lives of all the unsung heroes ‘Behind The Counter’.

Joseph’s ‘Common Wealth’ gives voice to a small selection of the project’s participants, creating a series of beautifully moving vignettes that “focuses on the unique and inspirational qualities people have.” Joseph says of his film, “I wanted to hear from participants what makes them tick, what makes them get out of bed in the morning to do good in the world. The film is a celebration of the uplifting dedication of people helping each other, focusing on the human skills participants have in enabling transformation into the wider realm.” 

Common Wealth by Joseph Potts

Behind the Counter by Lauren Hatchard

Making 'Common Wealth' by Joseph Potts. Participant Richard Flatley being filmed and recorded at West Bromiwch Town Hall.
Jasbir Kaur (centre) from 'Behind the Counter' with friends and shop customers at the film's premiere at the Bearwood Community Hub, July 2022
documentation of making 'Behind the Counter' by Lauren Hatchard

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