What's the Big Idea?

Creating Connections is a young person-centred programme, designed with the intention to create a community of young leaders from BAME (black, Asian, minority ethnic), refugee and neurodiverse backgrounds, especially those in geographically isolated areas of the country, who feel isolated and disconnected from other creatives and are suffering from or at risk of mental health issues.

We met many of the young people we worked with in past workshops that we have run in schools, where they asked us for continued support with their mental health and wellbeing, particularly through creativity. In response to their requests, we created and delivered a programme of activities which aimed to improve the life chances of the young people involved.

We gathered professional creatives from the worlds of art, photography, copywriting, product design, poetry, drama and paired them with expert facilitators to deliver a range of workshops in 3 locations across the UK: Falkirk, Whitby and London. Young people taking part were invited to cocreate the workshops which enabled us to provide meaningful opportunities that spoke to their individual differences and needs.

Group of Eskdale students

Whitby Moors

Student sitting on swing in a coat looking sad

The Work in Falkirk

We worked with Peter Scott, a teacher at Linlithgow Academy and a group of neurodivergent creative young people, aged 11 to 19 with a range of views and experiences of the world so far. They worked together to develop a project around the word ‘neurodiversity’.

macrophotography of person cleaning a giant lolly

All of us have felt anxious, scared and in awe of the world at some time or another. Through discussion and sharing ideas we worked together developing ideas. So we decided to make work about how we see the world…

Peter Scott, Teacher at Linlithgow Academy

Inspired by the work of David Gilliver and Jenny Holzer, students participated in workshops led by David Gilliver where they turned narratives and storyboard into 3D visual pieces of art that were captured through macrophotography. Students came up with the name ‘Same experience. Different font’ to encapsulate the different ways we all see the world. The work created was exhibited at a local gallery, with prints and a zine available for sale.

The programme was finished with a trip to Glasgow to visit a Grayson Perry exhibition. For some students this was their first time visiting a gallery.

This has come at a time in my life where I have been looking for a clear focus in terms of what I do and where I go. When my mum passed away at the start of the year, I started to reflect on all that I do and started to realise life is too short not to focus on what you love doing. Working with you has really helped me to move forward with that, so thank you, I am truly grateful

Student at Linlithgow Academy

Macrophotograph businessmen surrounded by giant pills

Macrophotography of cyclists cycling over half a tennis ball

The Work in London

Students from the Amos Bursary Trust worked with charity ‘How Mental’ to look at what helps and hinders creativity, activities that make them feel creatively engaged, and how creativity links with wellbeing. Discussions about their own mental health and wellbeing led them to the idea to create merchandise to celebrate improved wellbeing. A workshop with Black Girls In Design resulted in a range of product designs that included wellbeing activities and tips.

Students were also given their own budget to manage and spend on an activity to improve their wellbeing. They decided on an art activity and led on booking their chosen artist and procuring equipment for the workshop.

The Work in Whitby

 It made me feel happy and excited and safe.

Student at Eskdale School

It was a change in routine and it was fun and less stress from lessons

Student at Eskdale School

The  programme began with an exploratory workshop in June 2023. Adisa the Verbaliser led a poetry session with a group of 30 students, with the theme of emotional intelligence. He spent time talking to the students about their wellbeing needs. Through these discussions we created a programme of activities that were delivered during the Autumn Term.

Young people explored their own wellbeing and took part in activities to support this. In a half day workshop with Adisa they created poems about wellbeing which were then turned into drama pieces in a workshop with Ben Worth the following day

An interest in photography from the students, an offer from Canon and a storytelling idea led to a 2-day workshop delivered by Ben Worth and photographers Tom Martin and Michael Cockerham. Students explored ‘what it means to be a young person from Whitby’ and learned how to use camera’s and take good photos. The cameras were loaned to the school enabling students to take the cameras for 2 weeks and document their stories, which were finalised in a further workshop with Tom and Ben that will be exhibited in 2024.

Eskdale Young Creatives photography of two Apollo posters on wall

Eskdale Young Creatives

Eskdale Student Creatives

 I felt happy in the workshop because I got to meet new people and do new things

Student at Eskdale School

Students were also given a budget to create their own activities. They chose a trip to London, for many their first time there, where they toured the Barbican with an ex-Eskdale student who works there, visited a photography exhibition, saw the sights and caught a show.

I was blown away by their maturity talking about mental health and wellbeing. The workshops really brough the kids out of their shells. There’s a need to have time and space to be creative without a set of criteria and tick list of what they have to achieve and being on task all the time. Standing back and letting them do it, they came up with the goods. The workshops showed what education could be.

 Ian Bloor, Eskdale School.

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