‘Spring is the time of plans and projects’
~ Leo Tolstoy
I always look forward to the arrival of Spring. I love seeing life and colour appear from the ground under my feet, and the sound of geese passing over my head fills me with pure joy. I spend my time shifting around all the indoor and outdoor sunny spots, rejecting the scraps of winter that linger in the shade. All through those short days and long nights, somewhere deep within us, we store some light to propel us into the season ahead. Spring, for me, is always bound up with a sense of energy, promise and creativity, and never has that felt truer than this year.
Creativity, in its broadest sense, has been a consistent theme through our funded work at the Life Changes Trust. Across the country, young people with care experience have been planting seeds, upcycling furniture, writing poetry, designing spaces, cooking new recipes, capturing photographs, painting pictures, making music, shooting films, crafting, building dens, dancing, acting, and more. You would be forgiven for thinking that these all just sound like cool things to do, because they are! However, amidst all of the enjoyment, adventure and fun, there are powerful stories to be told.
From simple activities to more immersive projects, we know from independent evaluations and from direct conversations with young people that creative approaches and outlets for creative expression can have a range of positive impacts. These include:
- enhancing wellbeing, with wider benefits on mental health, educational attainment and behaviour
- boosting confidence and skills
- supporting involvement in decision-making
- tackling inequalities and breaking down barriers to engagement (particularly where inclusive and accessible creative approaches have supported young people who may be otherwise silenced)
- improving relationships, communications and connections with people (including other young people, family and professionals)
- increasing self-belief and self-worth
“It’s made me want to do more art and progress a bit… I really want to start writing professionally, maybe I can like put something out there, something creative.”
~ Young person
“We can all learn from each other as well, and learn skills and tips from each other… it sets a nice safe space for us to go, and escape from your home life for a while, and then just have a wee bit of freedom.”
~ Young person
At the Trust, we also have first-hand experience of the power of creative approaches. Last year, we encouraged people with experience of care to write about something that mattered to them. We recently published the collection of poems and reflections in a book called ‘Here I Stand’. The project has been incredible in so many ways. Every piece in the book has improved our understanding of care experience. Many of the talented contributors have also told us how creative outlets provide a safe, inclusive space to express their thoughts and feelings. Perhaps most of all, we have loved sharing moments of pride and happiness when people see their work in print and realise that their words matter.
We know that creative activities have been vital throughout the pandemic too, particularly in addressing the isolation, loneliness and mental health challenges felt by so many young people. As restrictions ease, we want to share our learning to improve awareness of the importance of creative activities to young people with care experience and, ultimately, to encourage more investment in creative practice and opportunities.
In June, the Trust will be hosting ‘Voice and Vision’ – a three-day event around creativity and care experience. A range of fantastic partners will deliver workshops to highlight the impact of this work and to provide inspiration and encouragement to young people and professionals to pursue more creative opportunities. We are so excited to be launching the Voice and Vision gallery at the event too. This online gallery will showcase the creative talents of young people with care experience. We are currently looking for people and organisations to submit creative content for the gallery, so please get in touch if you’d like to get involved!
We want to show that this way of working is about more than being creative and having fun. It’s about the rights and participation of all young people with care experience. It’s about seeking out different ways to listen to and elevate the voices of young people and involve them in the decisions that affect their lives. So let’s tap into all the colour, energy and creativity of the season as we support young people to be at the forefront of visioning their own positive future.
‘April hath put the spirit of youth in everything’ ~ William Shakespeare
Mhairi Reid, Evidence and Influencing Co-ordinator
Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for more information on the Voice and Vision event on 8/9/10 June. The workshop programme and registration information will be published in early May.
Click here for more information on submitting content for the gallery.
Digital copies of Here I Stand are available to download here. We also have a limited number of hard copies of this fantastic book too – please contact email@example.com if you would like to request one.