A fine mist of self-expression, grassroots politics, protest and youth culture was sprayed out of the nozzle of paint cans when Leicestershire Cares teamed up with arts organisation Pedestrian to create a new mural for our warehouse space.
The sessions started in Care Leavers Week at the end of October, and were supported by Assistant Social Value Manager Dale Powell from business energy & regeneration company ENGIE.
In three sessions the young people were introduced to the world of street art and graffiti, exploring the history and learning writing techniques through the guidance artist Nathaniel Newell.
Young people often find that their voice is dismissed or not taken seriously, and street art has become a powerful form of expression and solidarity among citizens who want to speak out. Art is born out of the people and the place, so the creation coming together in a safe space for our young people lead to the powerful message of “Self-Respect!”.
Arts and creative activity can provide a sense of purpose, motivation and a goal to work towards for young people, especially isolated from society. Working together in a group on a collective objective gave the young people a sense that they are part of something beyond their immediate world connected to others.
The power to change was demonstrated throughout the project:
- Knowledge exchange: young people learnt new skills and the history of street art. They got to meet and interact with new people, Dale from ENGIE and the artists from Pedestrian, creating opportunities for the exchange of knowledge about care-experienced issues.
- Relationships: Conversations flowed, young people developed new networks and found out about opportunities in art that they could pursue. Dale was able to connect with a local art organisations which could turn into further projects.
“As part of the ongoing engagement with Care Leavers (with EQUANS now being a “Care Leaver Friendly Employer” – Gold Status through the Care Leavers Covenant) and with it being National Care Leavers week 2021, EQUANS tried to spend the entire week working with local authorities, CIC’s and Charities connected with Care Leavers. After developing a relationship with Leicestershire Cares and in particular Jacob, we were delighted to be invited to the opening day of the Graffiti art sessions. The quality of the young persons’ drawing was fantastic as was the coaching by Nathaniel – overall a thoroughly enjoyable experience with some great young people and all we had to do was supply some pizza!”
Dale Powell, Assistant Social Value Manager ENGIE
- Community: Our young people sense of belonging is improved, as they now have part of them up on the wall in our warehouse space. ENGIE were able to take part, support and invest in National Care Leavers week.
- Growth: The young people learnt new skills and techniques, which inspired some to look into taking up an art course. The young people got to interact with people they would not normally engage with, and learn about what employers want.
- Human Fulfilment: The young people gained a sense of achievement and Dale and the artists from Pedestrian were fulfilled by support young people and giving back into their local community.
“I have loved taking part in this graffiti project. I just can’t stop drawing. I’ve gone home and filled up my sketch book. I’ve been scared of studying art because I didn’t want it to become something I had to do, rather than something I love to do. Nathaniel, the Pedestrian tutor has encouraged me to look into doing an art course and explained that studying doesn’t need to take love part away for me.”
Lydia, care-experienced young person
Our work with care experienced young people
- Find out about the work we do with care-experienced young people: mental wellbeing, employment and training, campaigning for Care Leavers rights, building social connection.
- Promise to Care Toolkit
- Sign our Promise to Care
- Hear the voices of care–experienced young people in our Podcasts
- Taking Hold of Our Heritage project. Get a digital download of the book
- Become a mentor to a care experienced young person
For more information about our work with care experienced young people, please contact Jacob Brown. With thanks to Esmee Fairbairn for their support for our Care Experienced Young People’s Programme.
This blog post was originally published by Leicestershire Cares.