Project Poppy

A conversation between today’s teens and the young women who lived through the trauma of World War One.

We Are Poppy is a Make (Good) Trouble project which explores women’s experiences of the First World War and how the War affected their mental health. It is a story developed and told by young people, aged between 14 and 19. Created in a time of Covid-19 and lockdown, there are new parallels to be explored.

One hundred years ago, in November 1920, thousands of women wrote letters to the government asking to be part of the ceremony at Westminster Abbey on 11 November. They were convinced that the Unknown Warrior being buried there that day was their son. This was just one of the stories our young team unearthed in their quest to find out how the Great War affected women’s mental health. They wanted to find out what has changed for women in the past 100 years and which challenges women still face today.

“Nobody seemed to remember that women had been affected too. Nurses working on the front lines saw terrible things. Women at home had their houses destroyed and workers in ammunition factories often had life-changing injuries.” Daisy, 14

“I knew about the men and their shellshock and how mental health wasn’t such a well-known thing back then, so how they were all discovering what that was but it hadn’t even occurred to me that the women would get shellshock or PTSD from working on the frontline.” Amelie, 14

A dedicated website: includes interviews, research and creative projects plus a comprehensive schools pack aimed at secondary school-age children. 

We Are Poppy, was set up by Make (Good) Trouble CIC, and has a team made up of teenagers from Hove Park School in Brighton and the East Sussex Youth Cabinet as well as local volunteers. It is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

The project culminated in a one-off podcast called Dear Poppy. This podcast imagines a conversation between today’s young people and the young women who lived through the First World War. Dear Poppy looks at how the war shaped the lives of a generation of women as they dealt with trauma, shellshock and loss as well as new-found freedoms. We hear excerpts from the letters, diaries and medical records of women living through the War, and interviews with experts. We ask why women’s experiences and mental health have been ignored for so long.

“I feel like it’s opened my mind more than it would have been because we don’t learn much about women in our lessons in history. The project really expanded my view of what women were doing and how women felt in the First World War.” Arielle, 14

This project has been created and developed by Make (Good) Trouble and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The background to the project
We set up Make (Good) Trouble in order to create a better understanding between teenagers and adults about mental health because there seems to be a growing gap in that understanding. There are plenty of parents who struggle to understand the world that their children are growing up in. So we decided that we wanted to help give young people a voice – a place where they can speak through films, radio shows, blogs and vlogs about the things that matter to them around mental health and wellbeing.

Project Poppy logos designed by students at Hove Park School
Teens in modern and WW1 dress at project photoshoot
Tiana and Amelie at photoshoot. Image by Lotti Terry
Heritage Fund logo