Speak Up Sunderland

Speak Up Sunderland

Speak Up Sunderland is a podcast proudly produced in Sunderland. Join Betty Ball and Stevie B as they meet the people of this brilliant little British city by the sea. We’re all about giving the people & projects of Sunderland a voice on a global scale. We host “open mic” events at The Peacock each month in-front of a live audience, and we record with charities & partners across the city to share their latest projects.


April 11, 2021 10 mins

Feels like it's been AGES since Betty & Stevie properly caught up. It must be, because apparently Betty "misses Stevie's face".

Yeah, right!

Betty & Stevie share their experience of receiving the "little prick" - erm, vaccine, and what they're looking forward to as the lockdown lifts.

And we want to hear from you - have you received your little prick?  What wa...

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How can you capture the mood of a country at war in a documentary?

With a uniquely poetical, musical filmmaking style, artist and filmmaker Prof. Esther Johnson was commissioned by 14-18 Now to create "Asunder" - a uniquely moving and vibrant documentary which interweaves narratives from conflict overseas with characters in the North East.

"Asunder tells the story of what happened ...

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This is Len Gibson, BEM.

He’s reading from his collection of poetry, which he’s compiled over the past hundred years of his life.  You heard that right, Len Gibson turned 100 years old on the third of January this year.

Len’s regarded as not only a hero to Sunderland, but also a national hero.  During the second world war, Len was a member of the 125 Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artill...

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August 12, 2020 30 mins

"Oh my God. OH MY GOD! It's Betty and Stevie!! [Unintelligible.]"

From across the pond, living in Traverse City, Michigan, meet Mark Whitley - the self-proclaimed number one fan of Speak Up Sunderland. He's listened to every episode of Speak Up Sunderland. No, but for real, every. Single. Episode.

We wanted to surprise him with a video chat.  (In fact, everyone was surprised.  Betty was still in her dressing go...

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Meet "Wor Vera", a.k.a. singer Deborah Taylor-Smith, who's donating her time and her voice by performing songs from throughout the decades outside care home residents across the North East.

As care homes across the country are losing lives to COVID-19, Deb, who's studying BA Performing Arts at the University of Sunderland, is lifting spirits for residents when they're in need of positivity more ...

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Our hosts Betty Ball and Stevie B get together for a call after a really intense week.

Now with his job as a deep cleaner classifying him as a "key worker", Stevie B shares his experience of deep cleaning tower blocks of COVD-19.

It's not all doom and gloom - Betty gets sloshed in the bath, and we learn the etiquette of proper underwear.

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We w...

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December 28, 2019 24 mins

Happy New Year from Betty and Stevie at Speak Up Sunderland!

Together we chat festive memories, play a stupid game, and tell you all about a couple of new projects we're launching next year:

  • A special first listen to a supercut of our first "Ball's Deep" - where we put Betty through her paces - challenging her with intense experiences & awkward situations in the area.  Wh...
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November 18, 2019 29 mins

Meet two of the volunteers who take the calls that help save lives, and hear what it's like on the other end of the phone line at the Sunderland Samaritans.

Sandy Shearer and Katie Mitchell share why they're driven to support this important charity, and a bit of behind-the-scenes gossip into the perhaps unexpected humorous phone calls.

The Sunderland Samaritans are turning 50 next ...

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October 30, 2019 44 mins

Red Riding Blood.  Witches put to trial.  The monsters behind the screen.  This is the Speak Up Sunderland Halloween Special.

Spooky stories for Halloween, read by 6 members of Spectral Visions Press, a publishing house based at the University of Sunderland who focus on the gothic, horror, and macabre.

Joining us live to share stories at the Fire Station in Sunderland were Spectral Visions' two founders:

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Work on a £11million new music venue in Sunderland's city centre has just begun, alongside the redeveloped Fire Station.

When it opens in 2021, the "Auditorium" promises to be Sunderland's answer to mid-size venues - a 450-seater venue with music and theatre performances around the year. It's part of the MAC Trust's continued plans to develop a cultural quarter in Sunderland.


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October 5, 2019 26 mins

40 days at sea.  6 metre waves.  A diet of 10,000 calories a day.  And four men in a rowing boat, battling all kinds of waves, wind and weather to cross the Atlantic.

Meet John Adams - he's taking on a fierce competition called the "Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge". Along with three other crew mates, Derek Spence, John Ford, and Colin Corfield, John will be testing his endurance and his limits.

It's all in aid of raisi...

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September 21, 2019 29 mins

Cut the cake, put on a "cheap and nasty tat" foam hat, and celebrate our first birthday with us! ONE YEAR OLD, BABY!

Betty, Stevie, and a gathering of local listeners at the Fire Station in Sunderland, reflect back on the first season of the podcast.

We share some of the first season highlights, some success stories that have emerged from bringing Sunderland residents together, and...

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May 31, 2019 22 mins

"Every patient is a person, an individual, a human being. And we've got to make sure, no matter what age and how far on they are in their dementia, that they have that dignity right up to the end."

June Ainsley works full time with autistic and special needs children.  But due to the help she received from a dementia charity here in Sunderland when her mother was admitted to hospital, she now spends her free time organisin...

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May 27, 2019 21 mins

"We've done something that the BBC have noticed. That's a pretty big statement, isn't it?" - Stevie B

"I'm proud to be getting out of this car, and being the voice of Sunderland. Big love to everyone who has been a part." - Betty Ball

On Wednesday last week, at 8pm, our friends Betty and Stevie joined The Evening Show on BBC Newcastle.

Host Tamsin Robson asked Betty &...

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This episode of the Speak Up Sunderland podcast carries a trigger warning:  Our guests talk about attempted suicide, depression, panic attacks, and lived mental health experiences.

Another bumper episode, recorded at our last Speak Up Sunderland LIVE event at The Peacock in April; in collaboration of Katie Baggott, founder of the 'S.O.S. Sunderland Opinion and Stories' website.


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April 26, 2019 40 mins

This episode of the Speak Up Sunderland podcast carries a trigger warning:  We talk about attempted suicide, post traumatic stress, substance abuse, and mental health issues - with people who have lived mental health experience.

Local inspiration 18-year-old Paige was commended by the Northumbria Police for her project called 'Notes on the Wear', where she single-handedly attached 40 different messages to Sunderland's Wear...

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March 29, 2019 25 mins

Meet the Sunderland woman who's working to put herself out of a job...

Alreeet! We're proud to launch a new project as part of Speak Up Sunderland...  It's called "Stars of Sunderland".

It's all about highlighting the work of exceptional individuals or organisations in Sunderland that go above and beyond for the community.

In this first episode, journalist James Barker who's heading up our "Stars of Sunderland" project int...

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Alreet! We're back, live from the Peacock in Sunderland city centre on Wednesday, with Sunderland-based singer & songwriter Marty Longstaff (a.k.a. The Lake Poets).

You may know Marty's song "Shipyards" as the title track on the Netflix documentary series "Sunderland 'Til I Die", detailing a difficult season for the SAFC (Sunderland Association Football Club), produced by Fulwell 73...

But tonight, in front of a live a...

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Welcome to our very first Speak Up Sunderland Live podcast!  This is part one.

We're so thrilled to have recorded in front of a live audience - huge thanks to our friends at the Peacock in Sunderland city centre.

Kate Townsend, the Coordinator of the Sunderland Foodbank Network joined us to share about the hugely important service they provide to at-need residents of Sunderland, and the future plans of their food...

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January 11, 2019 45 mins

Alreet! A bit of a hard-hitting episode from the outset this week.

Craig Hilton, the Manager of the Salvation Army's Swan Lodge Lifehouse in Sunderland, and Deb Fozzard, Director of the Sunderland Connect Network, joined us in the studio to talk addiction and homelessness in Sunderland.

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Speak Up Sunderland is a weekly podcast, proudly made in Sunderland and about Sunderland!

Our hosts are Betty Ball and Stevie ...

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