Our Create and Change project was created for the residents of Ward End to share, create and change perspectives on creativity.
Create and Change was a community project centred around Ward End, Birmingham. The project ran from January 2018 to March 2019 and saw nearly six hundred participants take part in workshops, watch performances and work with us to design activities they wanted to see in their community centres. Working in partnership with Birmingham MIND and funded by Birmingham City Council, the project aimed to make positive changes to the area by increasing discussion around the link between creativity and improved mental health and create safe spaces for local women and children to share.
We worked very closely in partnership with three community venues; The Dolphin Women’s centre, Ward End Library and the Unity Hubb. All three centres are a stone’s throw away from each other and sit right in the heart of Ward End.
What Did We Do?
Sampad organised over 80 different sessions, in many different art forms, from photography, to South Asian Folk Dance, to storytelling and Rangoli – all lead by professional artists and all completely free. We worked with women and children of all ages and held a number of larger family events. These sessions were a fantastic opportunity for us to get to know the people of the area, the residents to get to know each other, as well as to explore their creativity and the impact art can have on wellbeing.
Create and Change also ran an Artist Development strand. Firstly, we worked closely with two residents who wanted to take their involvement a step further and develop the skills to one day lead their own sessions in the community. These women shadowed a number of the workshop leaders, forging future skills and making friends. They delivered a series of very successful jewellery workshops at the Dolphin Centre throughout our final Create and Change Celebration event, and continue to take an active role in the centre.
Secondly, we ran the Accelerate: Lori Lullabies Artist Development scheme. Here, we connected with four local and emerging artists who wished to develop their skills in working with young children. They worked with a number of skilled professionals to develop a South Asian Storytelling workshop based on our own Lori Lullabies story book and CD. The four artists ran workshops in Ward End Library for under 5s (and their grown-ups!), exploring a South Asian tale through music, dance and craft.
We also organised trips to take residents out of Ward End in order to engage with Birmingham’s thriving Arts scene. These ranged from visits to MAC and Birmingham Hippodrome to watch performances, a guided walking tour to see the best of Birmingham city centre, and tickets to literature events. Many of the women had lived in Birmingham for decades, and yet were visiting these spots for the first time, all as a result of Create and Change.
As Create and Change was so inherently focused on the residents of Ward End, it was fantastic to see the positive changes manifest throughout the community. Those who regularly attended the sessions became more confident, more creative and connected with others.
“The project was able to tease out important and relevant topics and it created a space for the women to reflect and discuss their lives and issues affecting them. Around 50% of the women attending the centre have mental health issues and it served as a sanctuary for them to express themselves”
– Community Leader
It was noted on a regular basis how even the smallest, most simple creative task was initiating conversation. Sampad believes in the power of conversation as a catalyst for so many positive things, and Create and Change proved this time and time again. We wanted to create an open and warm space for people to relax and express themselves, whether this was through chatting or making. It was wonderful to see this being achieved throughout the sessions.
“…especially older women and women with mental health issues who have never had the confidence to talk before. I have noted a visible impact on body language and confidence.
I felt privileged to have provided a space for an activity with such a powerful impact to happen. ”
– Community leader
Being able to work so closely in the community was paramount to all its successes. It was fantastic to be able to work so closely with the community, and having the advice and support of The Dolphin Centre, Ward End Library and the Unity Hubb was invaluable. All three helped us to understand the area in a truly unique way, and allowed us to develop the way in which we work with communities. Sampad have a strong and continuing relationship with the residents of Ward End, and can’t wait to see this creativity flourish.