Culture Comics

When we originally designed this project we did not plan that we would be working within schools, but through discussion with organisations in the area it became clear that this would be the best way to reach those young people who are most at risk of poor mental health. We learned of the home link service, staff from that service were integral to the success of the project and provided a layer of support for the participants that would not have been there had we arranged the projects in another way. Within each project all participants showed an improvement in confidence in their artwork, most participants stated at the outset “I can’t draw”. Although this is a familiar response, it was a little surprising that it was so prevalent within this age group, from the outset it was clear to see that the young people we were working with had serious challenges around their mental health, often resulting in defensive and disruptive behaviours. However through encouragement and creating a safe and open atmosphere every participant developed their skills and confidence to produce completed works. Additional outcomes include the widening of the participants social network, the groups we worked with were mixed from a range of classes therefore many did not know each other, participants stated that knowing more people within the school helped them to feel more relaxed in general and began to improve self esteem and social confidence. I would note here that the distance of travel in terms of confidence was less than we would expect for such a project, this reflects the seriousness of the level of risk these young people are facing. Our final event took place at Comicrazy Café, this was a fantastic venue as it gave participants the opportunity to 1. See their own work displayed at a mainstream venue and 2. Learn about activities and events they could access, connecting them to a wider cultural engagement.