Taking Hold of our Heritage is a project that aims to address those words and sentiments above. This project wants to give the power back to the care experienced young person so they can tell the stories they want heard about their lives.
This heritage project will work with young people to investigate the complex nature of the identity of care leavers, producing an archive of artefacts including oral histories, photography and photovoice. The young people will investigate the memories and experiences of Leicestershire’s leaving care community, by looking at themselves, but also visiting and interviewing and documenting care experience young people.
We have two young people working alongside Leicestershire Cares staff on this project as apprentices.
The young people play a key role in developing and delivering the project and are gaining skills as co-facilitators, peer researchers and communication professionals. We have worked closely with them to identify their skills and the areas that they wish to improve and develop.
We place a safe amount of responsibly on them and try and put them out of their comfort zone, while supporting them to achieve their potential.
Taking Hold of Our Heritage Apprentice Lauren
Lauren is one of our apprentices working on the Taking hold of Our Heritage project. Lauren provides support in researching venues for the exhibition planned for the end of the project, coming up with ideas of activities that we can deliver to young people to help them create heritage artefacts and joins in with our weekly team meetings and supervisions.
Lauren is from the YMCA Y Heritage project and joined our heritage project in January. She has a passion for photography and journalism which she is hoping to utilise during the project.
As well as working on the Taking Hold of Our Heritage project, Lauren has taking part in several training sessions that Leicestershire Cares deliver to young people on other projects, including life skill workshops such as money management, mental health well-being and anti-hate.
Taking Hold of Our Heritage Apprentice Casey
"I’m Casey, and I’m a 20 year old care leaver. Leicestershire Cares works to support me as a young, care experienced person but I also like to return that favour for them when given the opportunity. I have taken part in several things such as radio interviews, helping the pitch to secure funding for the Heritage Project and even represent them for the Care Experienced Conference.
After having been through the care systems many failings first-hand, I decided that I wanted to take action. I work in several roles national and regional advocating and advising for care experienced people and mental health. I am very proud of what I do. Although, this is not my final career choice. As much as I enjoy what I do for now, I have dreams of becoming an astrophysicist – the next Stephen Hawking!
The Heritage Project is important to me because heritage is a very complex thing to a care leaver. We often see it as negative, rejecting what should be our history. It is unhealthy to spend our entire lifetimes focussed on the bad. This project gives us the space to think creatively and create our own heritage; one that is joyful and offers hope. It is time us care experienced people start talking about the positives. All is not bad and it is important that we recognise that.
Activities we have been using to explore care experienced heritage
We have created a pack of playing cards that have questions on each card. The questions get the reader to ponder past experiences and positive memories. We have found that these cards are a great way to engage young people in conversation about their identity and heritage. The cards have been used with unnacompained asylum seeking minors and refugees at the Freedom Club.
“Barcelona is my team. I used to watch them in Gahan, outside the national radio station's building. They project matches up on a big wall. I used to go there with my friend Manler (Mike). Since I have come to the UK I haven’t spoken to Manler. I don’t have a phone, and he has moved to boarding school so I don’t know his address to send him a letter. He doesn’t know I am in the UK.”
We have used photovoice as a method to help young people reflect on their personal history. Photovoice utilises photographs taken and selected by participants, respondents can reflect upon and explore the reasons, emotions and experiences that have guided their chosen images.
“When I was in care I’d escape to nature. It would chill me out, help me change my mindset at that moment. Remove me from the thoughts I’d have if I was inside at my placement.”
We are using spoken word and poetry workshops to explore care experienced heritage with our participants. Theses sessions are being lead by Ty'rone Haughton, a spoken word artist.
Here’s an example of some of the work that is coming out of the spoken word workshops:
I am from a place where families have been torn apart!
I am from a place where my favourite season brings frost to your fingers!
I am from a place where pain disappears with the first cry of a new life!
I am from a place where I find solidarity in the night prayers!
I am from a place where pain is associate with love!
I am from a place where fish is the dish of the day!
Social Media Campaign
We have been experimenting with ways of using social media to help young people with care experience tell the stories they want heard about their heritage
The quote reads “Let everything happen: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final” - Rainer Maria Rilke
The idea behind it was that the flower and tree grew from the woman that represents myself (forgot my red ink is a very pink colour so settled on multicolour hair instead haha). That is why the tree and flower match the hair’s colours. They represent growth and also that there had to be roots for them both to grow. Those roots came from myself so that, in a way, I have made my own heritage. A persons roots generally refer to previous family members and their culture which is how I made that link if that makes sense? The quote I have used is something I have decided to live by as I often live too much in fear of that ‘terror’ happening.
The aim of the project will empower care experienced young people to discover, create and promote positive cultural histories and artefacts about care experienced life, while developing a range of employable skills. These artefacts will then form part of a touring exhibition that will be hosted in foster homes and hostels, culminating in a larger exhibition during Care Leavers week in October 2020.
This heritage project will work with young people to investigate the complex nature of the identity of care leavers, producing an archive of artefacts including oral histories, photography and photovoice. The young people will investigate the memories and experiences of Leicestershire’s leaving care community, by looking at themselves, but also visiting and interviewing and documenting care experience young people. This project may well include collecting stories from older care experienced people.
Leicestershire Cares worked closely with care experience young people in developing the funding bid and took one of our young people to pitch our idea to a selection panel of young people from the Y Heritage.
“This project helps give hope and helps care experience young people to feel better and more confident about their experiences. This will help to promote positive thinking in other care experience people of all ages. It provokes us to think about our own positive experiences when watching. All the time, it is the negatives spoken about: ‘my social worker did this wrong’ ‘the system failed me here’. Why aren’t we taking a second to look at the good it did for us? It wasn’t all negative and this project allows all care experience people to stop and look at how it did help for once in our lives. In therapies, people are always told to look at and list the positives all the time. We don’t do that as care experience people and we are never encouraged to do so.
I do a lot of advocacy for looked after children and care experience young people, all anyone ever speaks about is the negatives! This is so unhealthy! It’s time to start turning these things around. Everything has to start somewhere. We deserve to have our own heritage when our own biological families are often lost. Our stories are important and deserve to be heard. Let us be heard, let us raise awareness and let us have our heritage.”
Casey, a care experienced young person
The project will start in January 2020, with the exhibition in October 2020.
If you are interested in finding out more about our Taking Back Our Heritage project, please contact Jacob:
T: 0116 464 5215
M: 07738 403 732
Find out more about the work we do with care experience young people
The Y has been awarded £707,500 through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s pioneering “Kick the Dust” funding programme. This will fund our project “Y Heritage”, which will be a collaboration between The Y, key civic partners such as our universities and local authorities, and the city and county’s wide and brilliant variety of heritage, cultural and creative organisations. The money will be used to better engage young people with heritage across both city and county.
Y Heritage will run a series of “Dragons Den” style pitches over three years where Leicester/Leicestershire based organisations can apply for funding up to £30,000 from a panel of young people. The young people all engage in some way with The Y. The organisations must build opportunities for work or training into their project funding application. Our aim is that our young people and the heritage projects develop and thrive together – it really is a win win opportunity!
With thanks to National Lottery Players for their support, without them projects such as Y Heritage could not happen.