Connecting disadvantaged young people with landscape through arts

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Sch of Humanities, Lang and Global Stud

Abstract

The proposed project follows on from the successful Stories2Connect (S2C) project which worked in participatory ways with disadvantaged children and young people to create stories based on their lived experiences, told through a range of co-designed story-telling digital machines for different audiences. S2C was shortlisted for the AHRC-Wellcome Health Humanities Medal 2018, and won a prize of £10,000 from EPSRC to create a film about the impact and engagement of the project. We created 50 stories and designed and produced five artefacts to access stories through physical interaction and a mobile phone app. In addition, 43 of the stories have been printed as storybooks, and 18 have been created as films on the project website. The combination of stories and digital artefacts has been significant in creating a whole new genre/method/means of story-telling, involving elements of touch, space, movement, enhancing the sensual and physical experience and thereby adding to the knowledge exchange process.
This follow-on funding will be used to engage with new audiences and new themes of work by collaborating with organisations encountered during and since the project, specifically with the Rusland Horizons Trust, Art Gene, Blackpool Council, the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, environmental charities and professional storytellers. These connections link with a theme that developed, about young people's participation in the appreciation and uses of their natural environment. Our participatory methodology will be applied in developing and using the new resources and will lead to co-produced artistic outputs focused on contributing young people's perspectives to decision-making about landscape.
Our evaluation interviews and feedback from publics and professionals who have accessed the outputs have demonstrated the significance of the project for improving engagement, self-esteem, confidence, resilience and attainment for the disadvantaged young people who have been involved. As a team, the young people and the academics therefore intend to create a means of enabling other groups to develop their own stories and bespoke story-telling devices.
Case studies in the North West will take place in Barrow-in-Furness, Blackpool, and the Rusland Valley. These three areas are all in NW England, rich in natural landscapes and close to areas of high deprivation. Disadvantaged young people from urban areas close to these natural environments do not necessarily benefit from them as much as those who visit from further afield. This means that the local populations are marginalised in any decisions that are made about their own landscapes. Our focus on disadvantaged/disabled children and young people is of particular importance as their voices are the least likely to be heard.
We are collaborating with a range of community groups to work with their aims of enhancing children's appreciation and understanding of the countryside and on improving adults' understanding of children and young people's needs within natural environments. For example, RHT will conduct environmental workshops with groups from schools in urban areas relatively close to the Rusland Heritage area of the Lake District. Using collaborative methods for writing, as developed in S2C and described in a co-authored practitioner guide (Satchwell et al 2018), the SCBWI volunteers and local community volunteers will help the young people to co-create stories, poems and songs.
Young people will benefit from participating and from having their perspectives captured and conveyed to influential stakeholders.
Those stakeholders will benefit from recognising and including perspectives from children and young people in maintaining and creating landscapes. The general public will gain greater understanding of children and young people and landscapes which take them into account.
The environment will benefit from greater care and attention from those who use it.

Planned Impact

We aim to transfer expertise and knowledge from academic institutions to the public domain. The knowledge exchange processes of the original Stories2Connect project, working in synergy with community groups and organisations, will be extended and strengthened. Distribution of our methodologies in accessible and usable forms to community groups will enhance the participation of disadvantaged and disabled children and young people in decisions about issues that of immediate concern to them.
The focus on landscape and the natural environment will give disadvantaged/disabled children and young people opportunities to experience the outdoor environment close to where they live, and receive the well-documented benefits to health and well-being. In addition, as evidenced in Stories2Connect, the young people in the project will experience an increased sense of agency, confidence, and skills in contributing their views in ways that will influence decision-making. As requested, the groups will meet each other and benefit from increased social networks. We expect to directly reach around 150 children and young people, with many more influenced through engagement with the interactive artefacts which are produced.
Artists using a wide range of modes and media (poets, creative writers, artists, storytellers, song-writers) will be employed by the groups according to the preferences and aims of the young people and facilitators involved. This will strengthen community bonds with the arts for future projects. At least 10 artists are already tentatively involved.
The Grundy Art Gallery will benefit from increased footfall from disadvantaged groups who would not normally access it, and enhanced engagement from regional communities.
The disabled children and young people involved in the original S2C research will benefit further in the Follow-on project from carrying out their role as consultants and mentors for new young people becoming involved.
Environmental groups and charities who want to involve communities - particularly young people - in appreciating and connecting with their local environment will benefit from receiving the final versions of the resources for conducting workshops, and being empowered to continue their environmental work.
Land owners and organisations such as the National Trust and Natural England will benefit from being able to access the views and contributions of young people presented in accessible ways, when engaged in making decisions. They will also have access to methods for conducting their own research with children and young people when considering new projects or initiatives.
The public will benefit from landscapes which are appreciated by and accessible to children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are therefore more likely to contribute to maintaining the existence of AONBs and SSSIs in their locality. The environment itself will benefit from the care and attention that will ensue from this project.
The artefacts co-created during the project, including for example an interactive map, will have digital affordances to continue to act as a depository for creative arts products from children and young people. In addition to the evidence from participation with children and young people in NW England, the organically growing online resource will be an embodiment of views to be made available to landscape decision-making across the UK and beyond. This will be a sustainable legacy and resource for informing decision-making now and in the future. We will promote its use through our connections to public decision-makers at European and UK levels. We will also broaden its uptake by public decision makers by co-hosting an event with Natural England. Sustainability of the website and co-designed artefacts will be ensured by linking them to the suite of online resources, social media connections, and impact tracking mechanisms at The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Broadening Horizons film 
Description A short and long version of a film created by a filmmaker employed to document the experiences of young people in woodland workshops. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact The film was used to recruit more young people at the Further Education College to take part in woodland workshops. The impact on both sets of young people was social, educational and well-being benefits. 
URL https://vimeo.com/660965186
 
Description We have learnt that it is possible to conduct online arts workshops with small groups of disadvantaged children and that they benefit in social and emotional ways.
We have gathered testimonials from young people about their experiences of being in the outdoors and engaged in arts and crafts activities. They stated that they had benefited in terms of their education and well-being.
Exploitation Route We hope to build on our use of online workshops in this and other projects.
We are continuing with the project and the artefacts created with young people and artists will be presented in exhibitions at the end of the project. The exhibitions will be attended by decision-makers about landscape and land use, and we hope to use the outcomes as a way of helping disadvantaged groups and young people to influence decision-making about their local landscapes and access to nature.
Sectors Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description A group of disadvantaged children and young people involved in the project have benefited socially and emotionally from participating in arts-based activities online during lockdowns in 2020. The arts organisations have benefited from learning how to adapt arts workshops to online contexts. A group of FE students with mental health issues and/or autism benefited educationally, socially and emotionally from taking part in a series of workshops in woodlands. The workshops were led by woodland workers and introduced young people to understanding the natural environment and how to live sustainably with it. The young people featured in a film which was subsequently used to recruit more students to benefit from further workshops, which were endorsed by the college.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Children's perspectives on quality in natural environemnts
Amount £64,800 (GBP)
Organisation Natural England 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2021 
End 04/2022
 
Description Multisensory multispecies storytelling to engage disadvantaged groups in changing landscapes
Amount £81,018 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/T012293/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 07/2022
 
Description Art Gene 
Organisation Art Gene Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We provided Art Gene with funds to work in artistic ways with groups of children and young people in relation to landscape
Collaborator Contribution Art Gene contributed their artistic and community knowledge to the project to work in partnership with youth groups and schools.
Impact Children and young people have contributed to conversations about landscape and their experience of the outdoors.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Blackpool Council 
Organisation Blackpool Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have been able to supply funding to help with their outreach work for the Grundy Art Gallery.
Collaborator Contribution Blackpool Council workers at the Grundy Art Gallery have engaged with a local artist and children in the area to develop and trial a mobile game to investigate uses of landscape.
Impact Relationships and activities ongoing.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Edge Hill/UEA/UCLan partnership 
Organisation Edge Hill University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We contributed expertise and contacts in writing the bid and subsequently in conducting the research
Collaborator Contribution Academics from Edge Hill, University of East Anglia and UCLan came together and bid successfully for a grant.
Impact Outcome was a joint collaborative research project, funded by AHRC.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Green Close 
Organisation Green Close
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We introduced the artist to a charity and a group of children to conduct arts workshops with the children during lockdown.
Collaborator Contribution The artist worked with children in online workshops to explore their relationships with landscape.
Impact Outcomes have been reported increase in confidence and engagement from the children, especially significant during lockdown when they were deprived of social and educational activities.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Rusland Horizons Trust 
Organisation Rusland Horizons Trust Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have worked with Rusland Horizons to work with children and young people in introducing them to rural locations and the Rusland Valley community. The original collaboration was in 'Stories to connect with', and led to a further collaboration in 'Connecting disadvantaged young people with landscape through arts'. We carried out a series of 4 full day workshops in settings provided by Ruslan Horizons Trust with young people from Furness College. The aim for Rusland Horizons and for my own research was to encourage more young people to experience the outdoors and natural environments. As a result the young people felt more connected with nature and their local environment, and learnt about potential job opportunities in the outdoors.
Collaborator Contribution Rusland Horizons have contributed their local knowledge and artistic expertise to allow us to work together with community groups in local natural environments.
Impact Two films - a longer one and a shorter one - have been created. The link provided above is to the shorter film. These films have been used to date for recruiting for another series of workshops. They have also been used to demonstrate to college staff the benefits of students accessing outdoor learning. The film has been exhibited at the UKRI Festival of Tomorrow 2022. The collaboration is multidisciplinary, covering environmental science, biology, creative arts and linguistics.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Arts workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Six children attended 7 online workshops during lockdown, along with charity workers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Arts workshops with youth group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact young people attended arts workshops over a period of weeks during lockdown, with artist recruited by Art Gene. Youth leaders also attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Communicate Conference 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Candice Satchwell took part in a panel at the Communicate Conference 2021, run by the Natural History Consortium. A wide audience attended for a discussion about the difficulties and importance of engaging young people in natural environments. The event led to a request to bid for a tender with Natural England to investigate children's perspectives on quality in natural environments. This bid was successful.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saf9ohObYlE
 
Description Interview for local radio 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A radio interview was recorded during a workshop in woodlands with students from Furness College. The story was broadcast on Radio Cumbria, highlighting the partnership between Furness College, University of Central Lancashire and research carried out with UKRI funding.
As a result of this broadcast the college leadership team became interested in the potential for working with the university researchers to provide experiences for their students in the outdoors. New workshops are now planned for March 2022.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description UKRI Festival of Tomorrow 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A virtual presence at the Festival of Tomorrow (UKRI) on February 25-26, 2022. The booth was entitled 'Engaging children and young people in research about the natural environment through creative arts'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.festivaloftomorrow.com/