Find Your Village aims to explore how local policies about neighbourhood geography could take more account of the experiences of young people from ethnically diverse communities. A collaboration between paediatrician Dr Tom Allport and community activist, mother and local resident Samira Musse the project has devised and undertaken several interventions including walkabouts, photoshoots and music sessions. Playfulness, heritage and intergenerational gatherings are at its heart.
Bristol City Council policy briefing http://www.bristol.ac.uk/policybristol/policy-briefings/improving-outcomes-refugee-families/
We were initially approached to design a set of playful photography workshops. The aim was to work with young people to identify and highlight local gaps in facilities and community spaces. Due to the Covid pandemic the engagement was adapted to be delivered online.
Following the pilot workshops in 2020, we are collaborating with Find Your Village on a Quality-Related Strategic Priorities project, funded by the Brigstow Institute at University of Bristol. During Q1 2021 we are running weekly workshops with Y7 students of Somalian heritage residing in high rise flats in the Lawrence Hill area of Bristol. Game based activities invite participants to consider their existing environment, imagine change, and consider ways to improve communal areas for play and social activities.
“The workshops have been very successful, giving us confidence that we can achieve young people’s involvement and support their creative output within a short time frame. We have seen how it is possible for children to experience these workshops as both entertainment and evidence-building, stepping together between worlds of play, imagination, constraint and activism.”
Dr Tom Allport
For the adapted pilot sessions, we supplied 5-12 year old participants with LEGO® packs and built models of imaginary and tangible neighbourhood changes, over the course of three 1 hour Zoom sessions. We then used photoshop to transpose the models onto backdrops of their neighborhood and asked the young people to tell the stories of their models. By moving between imaginary worlds and their lived environment, we were able to draw out responses that would not have been given through questioning. We were able to identify clear needs and desires for their area, in a short time period.
In the current second phase, we are encouraging advocacy in year 7 students by training participants in place-based observation. Drawing on tool kits including Observe (Centre for the Living City) and Gehl’s Public Life Tools; traditional Somali games and current days online play such as Among Us, we are co-designing a game that supports young people to understand how the built environment affects them.
We will experiment with a range of interventions and invite them to critique other areas of the city. We hope that this work will help to create a template for including the experiences of children and young people from ethnically diverse communities as place consultants, with wellbeing and community at the heart.