Stacey Dooley on new series Coming Here Soon
My new series (Coming Here Soon, Tuesdays 9pm) looks at how the world’s economic crisis has affected us all - in particular young people – and is one of the most important series I think I've done.
In the past I’ve focused on situations that are just as important as this one, but certainly a lot harder for us to relate to. The issue of child soldiers in DR Congo is fortunately not something many of us have first-hand experience of.
But feeling the pressure to find a job or make the wage we earn go as far as we need it to? That’s totally relatable. Nearly all my pals, and definitely myself, have been in that situation. It's no fun.
The economy is in bits here in the UK and as unfair as it is, it seems to be the least to blame are often the hardest hit. It's the same feeling over in Greece, although the Greeks are facing a much tougher time than us right now. Every single person you talk to there tells you they’re stressed and panicking about their future.
Greece is in so much debt and many Greeks say it's because they have been contending with a bent government. They will tell you that those in charge were - and still are - corrupt. They will tell you they were lied to, and given a false sense of security.
Now the country’s leaders are running around trying to find the money they owe. They’re putting harsh austerity measures in place on normal, hardworking people. Jobs are being cut all the time; families are struggling to feed their kids. There were some areas of Athens that reminded me of a third world country. It's a city on its knees.
Half of the Greeks’ youth are unemployed yet every young person I met was bright, academic, keen and talented. They should be an asset to their country, but instead it seems to me they are wasted. They've studied for years because they were told that if they did they would have decent jobs and comfortable lives. That's not been the case. I was heading back to my hotel room one night, and I saw a young lad on a main road with a needle hanging out of his arm nearly unconscious.
That was the same day I saw a mum hanging off the side of a building threatening to jump because she and her partner have both been told they were losing their jobs. She’s got two kids, one of whom is disabled and requires expensive medicine.
One night I will never ever forget, is when I was in the thick of a protest. There were nearly one million people outside parliament. I've never seen anything like it in my life. The riot police were aggressive and scary; they threw so much tear gas there were rumours they ran out of supplies.
From what I witnessed, the police threw it without any warning whatsoever. There were kids here at this stage and everyone was struggling to breathe. I couldn't see. You lose your vision and can't get out of the way because there’s so many people, some of whom were getting crushed. In retaliation, people threw petrol bombs and buildings started burning down. This went on for hours. I remember people smashing marble off the steps and buildings. It was terrifying.
I hope people watch the episode and are able to see what it's like for Greek people at the minute. I was blown away by what they are going through right now, especially the young people. You have to keep your fingers crossed and hope things somehow work out for them.
Whether it's a total clear out in parliament or a revolution from the public, things have to change.
What stuck with me is this isn't Africa or South-East Asia. This is a country in the European Union, four hours away on a plane.
It's very close to home.
Coming Here Soon is on Tuesdays at 9pm.