Project: Building Stories
Comics Youth CIC is the first organisation of its kind in the UK to provide holistic comics-based literacy and wellbeing projects for disadvantaged children and young people aged 8-25 and is based in the Liverpool City Region.
The ‘Building Stories’ project is centred around providing a voice for marginalised young people including care leavers, looked after children, LGBTQIA YP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Allies young people), SEND YP (special educational needs and disabilities young people), young carers, and young people experiencing complex mental ill-health through providing them the tools to express themselves, improve their literacy, speak truth to power and have their voices heard through publishing ‘zines and comics regarding salient community issues.
The project delivers guided reading and comic book creation sessions per week with the aim of empowering young people to become content creators rather than mere information receivers. By taking part in creative workshops, young people have the opportunity to write, illustrate and publish their own work, thereby enabling them to expand their narratives and communicate ideas and topics that are important to them as a form of ‘social action’ to challenge the stigma that surrounds their ‘marginalised statuses’.
Highlights include supporting young people with SEND to read for the first time, encouraging non-verbal young people with autism to publish a comic book about their lives (young peoples’ parents were unaware of their capability to express themselves), supporting a group of LGBT young people to publish a trans survival guide, and publishing 3,000 copies of a self-care zine curated by young people who have experienced mental ill health.
This project has also been awarded the Public Health England Commendation 2018: Reducing Inequalities at Community Level 2018 and the Public Health Minister's Award 2018.
Project: Shaping perceptions of dementias
Created out of Mind (COoM) is based at The Hub, a unique, interdisciplinary research space at Wellcome Collection in London. COoM focuses on the intersection of dementia, arts and sciences and is comprised of an interdisciplinary team including people living with dementias, carers, scientists, visual artists, musicians, broadcasters, public health professionals and clinicians.
The project aims to explore, challenge and shape public and professional perceptions and understanding of dementias. It is collaborating with 10 charities, seven educational institutions (led by UCL) and eight organisations on 19 separate projects focused on two broad themes: ‘People and Perceptions’ and ‘In the Moment’. Also vital to its objective is to inform and influence the public narrative about the dementias so public engagement is an integral part of all of its projects.
COoM is influencing policy on an international scale which has included contributing to leading dementia and creative ageing conferences in Korea, Japan and Salzburg, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW) Creative Health report and a Commission set up to explore the role of music-based interventions in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for people living with dementias.
Project: Bringing Music to Life
Live Music Now (LMN) trains and supports professional musicians to work in adult social care and other setting with older people throughout the UK. At any time, it has over 300 musicians working with across England, Wales and Northern Ireland from a range of genres.
LMN musicians deliver creative music activities with people who live and work in care homes across the country, many of whom live with dementia. These activities range from one-off interactive concerts to residencies and projects, with joint music composition, singing and creative music making. It also provides training and support for care staff to develop skills and confidence in using music as part of their daily care tool kit, leaving a legacy of ongoing activity.
In 2017, it delivered over 3,700 music workshops for vulnerable people around the UK. Over 1,800 of these took place in care homes and other social care settings. It reached 120,557 people, of whom over 50,000 were older people in care homes, providing measurable and sustainable benefits.
In turn, it feeds what learnings back into ongoing project design and delivery, and into how it trains its musicians. This cycle is monitored regularly and is central to how LMN ensures its work is relevant and of high quality.