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Supporting Young Minds activity in Kent: Flux

Date Created: 16th Feb 2023

Art work of 3 people standing with black sign over their faces saying "overthinking

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Artswork’s Supporting Young Minds investment programme aims to model best practice in the use of creativity to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, particularly in disadvantaged communities, through five linked projects across the South East.

Flux explored ways of improving the mental health and wellbeing of marginalised children and young people (aged 14-25) who are at risk of self harm, worsening mental ill health or suicide across Kent and Medway through the arts. As lead partners, Living Words commissioned and supported 10 individual arts projects across Kent and Medway, working with and reaching 319 seldom heard young people.

This series of creative arts interventions was driven by the belief that access to the arts enables marginalised CYP to be heard and seen, and that this has the power to equip them with tools for perceiving themselves and the world around them differently by trying new things and self-expressing, thus improving their mental health outlook. To make this happen, Flux implemented cross-sector working between leading Kent arts organisations, and the public health and social care sectors. Living Words was determined to implement best practice by including an advisory board, lines of collaboration between partners, and mental health sign posting and supervision for leaders of projects. Its purpose – so that new partnerships are deepened, that greater understanding and clarity may be achieved of such work in the field of arts and health, and a future in which structures and support systems may become more clear for this culture and the young people that are part of it. From one-day writing and zine workshops in schools, to six-week-long drama, music-making, and spoken word projects at youth clubs, libraries, and community centres – everyone involved worked with professional artists. Up to 186 14-25 year olds have gained nationally recognised Discover and Bronze Arts Award qualifications across 110 creative works, too.

In a nutshell:

Gulbenkian partnered with Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) and Spring Lane Neighbourhood Centre through drama and comedy workshops. In offering a consistent weekly space to hold  process-led opportunities for unaccompanied young aslyum seekers for instance, allowed these young people to express themselves through communication and body language work, as well as through games and play whilst meeting others with similar life experiences to them. Ideas Test worked with Da Base Music through the creation of songs and music videos, as well as with Dante or Die through innovative theatre practices across story-telling/character-building, collage-making, and podcast/playlist creation with often overlooked students at Victory Academy and Will Adams Academy (PRU) in Medway. In unlocking their creative potential through having the space to express what was going on in their lives, led to a building of new perspectives, ideas of selfhood/motivations, and around what safe spaces look like.

“Before I did this project, I wasn’t really as confident at speaking up about stuff. I’ve shown this in a different way now. Doing this project has made me more confident to speak up when something is wrong.”

– Project Member/Student.

Community Art Kent led workshops with young people and specifically young carers at Pie Factory Music, Dover SmART Project, and for some time, Quarterdeck Youth Hub. Zine-making was introduced to the groups in which they created and sold their own by trying out different art forms which channelled ideas around mental health/lived experiences/expression through placards, analogue photography, plus lino-printing etc. Two incredible representatives from these projects shared their insights with us in the Flux official film.

” ‘It’s just a zine’ – we know it’s not.” – Pie Factory representative.

Beats by Girlz lead artist Florence Glen worked 1-2-1 on a drill songwriting and music project with a 14-year-old girl in care. The two focused on song-writing that required minimal equipment at low costs

 “This has given her a confidence boost and given her the tools to build her self-esteem as well as her confidence.” – Care worker.

Living Words ran 5 week programmes with Kent Libraries and young LGBTQIA+ individuals through which truths could be spoken and heard. Abiding to Living Words’ practice, each project member finished with a book of their own words. These words were shared with the world more widely through published anthologies from each cohort. For some individuals, this developed in sharing their lived experiences through film, spoken word, song, artworks, to speaking at large-scale events (Folkestone Pride + project sharing events), to starring in a Living Words commission for a BBC Ideas short-doc ‘Overcoming self-harm’.

“I never saw myself as someone that had things of value to say and being heard in a forum and getting responses from others about my words was invaluable to me.” – Project Member.

Additionally, two collaborations took place between Living Words artists and Flux practitioners at Turner Free School and Dover Christ Church Academy which saw the delivery of day-long workshops for multiple year groups where we wrote on the walls, designed sound scapes, and explored with ink, creative listening, and voice, in order to look at what kindness and unkindness to oneself might look like

“It felt very rebellious, just writing on the walls. It felt very revealing writing everything down, just letting everything out.” – Project Member.

Flux’s relationship with exceptional partner Shepway Youth Hub and young individuals within the Roma community who are part of the club, will continue to flourish into the future through the exploration of mediums like photography, music, dance, and film. This will be supported by local artists and other outlets available within Folkestone’s cultural calendar.

Flux culminated in a 120+ person event – Flux: Fest – in a takeover of Folkestone Quarterhouse. This event enabled Flux’s branding (largely developed by Living Warriors: Flux project member Lin Frank), and themes, to truly shine and be celebrated. It was also a chance for practitioners and project members to showcase what each project strand had been up to as well as the talents fostered within. The afternoon hosted a co-curated line up of sharings, performances, films, words, and songs. Additionally, there were opportunities to have a go at the various art forms yourself through taster workshops led by Flux representatives, as well as opportunities to have your photo taken, write words, reflect, dance, and eat together. Most crucially, all involved could come together and witness Flux’s  impact and the value that the arts has had within. Now, we move towards completing Flux’s evaluation, whilst discussions continue amongst funders and sponsors to hone learnings and think to its future.

Written by Olivia Franklin, Living Words

Explore project outputs using the links below

Living Words’ most recent film was commissioned for BBC Ideas, Jan 2023. It features people from our Living Warriors: Flux project. Contributors bravely and boldly share their lived experiences and coping mechanisms that help them move on from self-harming behaviours.

Watch the film here

Flux’s official film was made by Spark Film Productions. We hear from Flux project members, practitioners, project leads, public health advisors and commissioners, plus others who supported Flux and the spaces it happened within from the ground.  Watch on YouTube

Flux: Fest recorded auditorium action. 

Living Warriors: Flux song/spoken word.

Living Warriors: Flux anthology (BUY). 

Living Warriors: Flux film.

Some zines, music videos, and artworks produced available on request.
welcome to flux fest poster

This project is part of Artswork’s Supporting Young Minds investment programme – five linked projects taking place across the South East that aims to model best practice in the use of creativity to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, particularly in disadvantaged communities.


Kent mental health Supporting Young Minds

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