This week, Hampshire Cultural Trust welcomed the first two groups of young people to start a 10 week creative programme, part of the ICE Heritage project.
These first two programmes are led by professional artists and are delivered at Aldershot Military Museum and Andover Museum. This innovative project develops positive progression pathways for young people struggling with their mental health.
Through engaging in high quality activity and having access to local heritage, the programme aims to promote positive mental health, provide longer term opportunities using creativity to build emotional resilience and bring to attention what museums can do to positively support more young people and local services.
As we relaxed into the first session of a 10 week leather-making programme at Andover Museum, the young people and artist, Polly Perry talked to us about the first session in the museum.
What have you been doing today?
'Today we’ve been getting to grips with new tools and learning how to use them.'
What do you like about being here?
'It’s a really nice atmosphere and we’re just a small group and it’s nice to focus on something creative.'
'I used to come here for schools trips. Seeing the museum now, it has lots more exhibitions than I remember and more art. My favourite bit of the museum is where it helps make sense of how history and religion tied in together and not always in a positive way!'
The artist, Polly Perry is one of many freelance artists that deliver some of our countywide social impact programmes, working with young people. The ICE Heritage programme involves artists working with young people using creativity and heritage and here, Polly reflects on the positive impact the programme has on young people and her own experience of working on the ICE Heritage project.
What drew you to working on the ICE Heritage project?
'I really love working with young people and seeing them realise they can do things they never thought they could do before and trying something new.
Working in a museum like Andover has a different vibe to normal workshops – a museum is such a different space to working in an office or traditional formal classroom settings.
Working with these young people helps to develop my skills as we all go on a creative journey together and I find out what interests them most which challenges and inspires my own practice.'
How do you see creativity as a way to support young people with their mental health?
'Having a creative focus, I see the young people taken out of the routine of normal life. The workshops give the young people something to focus on, escape from or forget for a few hours the worries of life. You can just focus on what you are making and it’s just for yourself. Plus, you get something beautiful and unique that’s yours. Seeing that sense of pride and achievement is really rewarding and I look forward to seeing friendships and confidence grow over time.'
The project will measure impact and share positive outcomes, and in doing so will seek to influence organisational change. For each phase or project group, there will be three stages: Inspire - an inspiration point in the museums and their collections; Create - a participation phase, such as regular workshops with professional artists or heritage practitioners; and finally, Exchange – showcasing work, celebrate local heritage and planning longer term progression routes accessible for young people.
For more information please contact Cat Cooke, Community Programmes Manager at Hampshire Cultural Trust firstname.lastname@example.org.