The Impact Arts youth ambassadors, the Sketchy Youths were due to meet for their monthly meetup at the beginning of April, but since the whole of the UK is in lockdown they held the meeting via video call and had a full house, even welcoming their newest member Alishia to the group! They took some time to check in with each other and share experiences with being at home so far, and had some chat about how they could move forward as a group during this time.
The group have been writing personal bios and formatting their page on the Impact Arts website which can be found here. They are also working on their own mini projects over the next few weeks, keep an eye out for more updates on that coming soon!
The Sketchy Youths, including our youth trustee Rosa, all wrote a few lines here about how the lockdown has been for them so far and wanted to share this with the Impact Arts team and beyond. Here’s what they had to say in their own words:
Approaching this quarantine I knew that I didn’t want to be stuck in my flat alone, so instead I moved home and my family threw itself back into family close quarters, with six of us now under the same roof. We are incredibly lucky. We live in a quiet town with a garden for outdoor space, and I am so grateful for this. But I am still scared. Selfishly, I’m worried for the future of my job, but of course more widely for people I care about and the broader picture. The future is all looking a little unsure.
My family have been reinstating some childhood traditions to see us through. We’ve been playing games and putting on semi-joking performances (mostly singing rewrites of songs with covid-related lyrics). I have been trying to do a few things I complain that I never have time for, like painting and sewing, but it is difficult to get the motivation and inspiration needed. I have found that getting started is half the battle. Project Ability have been running challenges on their social media which are really fun and easy to get involved with. So far the challenges have been self-portraits and still life, and this week’s is Manga/Superhero. I’d really recommend giving them a go- why not!
I’ve found that the days been are beginning to feel longer and repetitive. I’ve been trying to fill my time with playing on the Xbox but now that’s getting boring so I’ve looked out my old white bored and I’m gonna try and write some motivational pieces of spoken word. I visit my family once a week so I don’t feel lonely but I do because it’s through a window, I see them for their protection and mine. These times are hard and trying, but I know we will prevail through it.
I feel as if it’s hard to deal with something like this especially if you are someone that was always out the house doing something, it’s a big change to deal with and not many people talk about it. The days do feel like they are getting longer and more of a struggle. What I do is I sit in my room on my bed, put my headphones in and just sit and have time away from looking at screens and family, just having time to relax. I also write everything I feel in my notes and FaceTime my friends so I have contact with other people.
My family are not the most tight knit but we’re trying to make it work at home- from giving each other space when we need it and giving a hand when someone else needs it. That may not sound revolutionary but for a lot of households, staying calm and collected is an achievement.
That’s my goal really- to stay calm and collected. It’s the strategy that got me through my exams and a trip down a cliff- here’s hoping it helps here too.
While I’m taking my no- college and no-volunteering lockdown one day at a time I know there are other people taking on a lot more. Local business’ and individuals reaching out just to help and stay connected is so important and valued, along with the work of our care and supply providers. Here’s hoping when this is all over we can continue to see the intrinsic value of each and every life different from ours, along with the work others put in to keep the world going every day.
Things haven’t changed much for me as I’m still working with the horses, they still need to be fed so I have a bit of routine. Getting the train has been really different though as the conductors are not coming up and down trains anymore and people are keeping a 2 meter distance getting on and off the train and on the platform. There are also always police at Central Station.
I’ve had to ride with a different mentality – there are more people around when I’m out on my horse and they’re wanting to pet the horse so it’s hard to keep a distance. I feel really lucky as if I didn’t have the horses I’d be at home 24-7 – I don’t want to think about that – I’d go insane.
I do have some college work to do but it’s too easy for level 5 so I’m a bit concerned. I need to build a website with 4 pages but I’m finding it hard to get motivated since I’m not going into college and trying to do my college work online. It’s a big challenge.
What truly open and honest words from everyone! Alishia even added; ‘BTW I know we haven’t met properly but if anyone needs someone to talk to I am always here ’ showing fantastic support to the rest of the group. We hope that by continuing to connect and support each other through this challenging time we will get through it together.
“It’s almost been five years since I’ve been involved with Impact Arts– it’s crazy how the time flies.
I completed my Creative Pathways course in December, with the East Coast showcase, that you can view here on YouTube – almost 900 people watched it on Facebook! On the programme we also did a socially distanced beach clean at Portobello to clean up all the rubbish!
I am now on a programme with Street League, . A great opportunity that Impact Arts helped me get involved in. Street League is a football organisation. The course started mid-January and they deliver an SQA award in customer service. The first half of the day on the course consists of employability workshops and the second half is all about fitness. They also offer support and advice for anxiety and mental health issues, which is handy too me. I don’t really know if I have said but I have anxiety and I have had it for about eight years now. It’s got slightly worse with the current pandemic and lockdown and but at the end of the day things are going to get better – I think it’s important that I hold onto that little bit of hope.
At least during lockdown its been nice not rushing around to go to appointments, or commitments of any other kind. I‘ve been in town 4 times since the pandemic – the second time was to meet up with SAM Radio in September to record an interview in which Forth One broadcasted a show about SAM Radio in October.
The Scottish Government, Republic Media and Bauer Media Group (Forth One owners) have teamed up to create a one-off Radio Documentary that aired across the Hit Radio Network in Scotland; Tay FM, West FM, Clyde 1, MFR, North-sounds 1, Radio Borders and Forth One. It was a huge once in a lifetime opportunity to broadcast on a major radio network, talking about our experiences with Autism and how SAM Radio has helped us. They wanted to know about our experiences before and after we joined SAM Radio and the barriers that we still face as Autistic People within the community. It’s a good platform to publicise our shows to the radio big wigs…an opportunity like this doesn’t come that often.
We’ve got over 2,000 followers and hopefully, will be able to get a bit more – what really counts though is how influential we are not how big we are; for example, Forth One actually supporting us, so that’s pretty cool! Plus are also working with Amazon to get SAM Radio on the echo. So, now you can say “Alexa; put on SAM Radio”
An update from Sketchy Youth, Dylan on what he’s been Up to over the past few months; taking part in Impact Arts virtual programmes and how he’s still managing to DJ!
“I participated in Creative Pathways with Impact Arts, from October 2019 – March 2020. During my time on Creative Pathways I had been doing a range of creative activities such as script-reading, drawing, and character/stage-design. The programme unfortunately ended prematurely in March due to covid-19. We were supposed to be having an exhibition on LGBT Histories at The Museum, but… lockdown happened.
Since then I’ve been doing some stuff with Impact Arts during lockdown via Zoom, namely: the Sketchy Youths and Make Space– I actually even DJ’d on Zoom for the last day for Make Space as well.
Before the pandemic, every Wednesday, I would go to Crew to do DJ-workshops: then the pandemic happened. Non-essential shop/outlets are starting to open again (Crew is technically an essential outlet anyway since they offer support for people‘s health and well-being), but they were having to arrange one-to-ones in different places with people at the start of the pandemic.
I usually DJ on the vinyl turntables at Crew, but that is difficult to do over Zoom as I’ve only got one turntable at home. Its been just over a whole year now that I’ve been a DJ at Crew – goodness only knows what I’d be doing there right now if it wasn’t for the pandemic – I mean, I was learning how to mix, and I’d have probably near enough mastered that now, so I wonder what else I would be doing!
I was also, every two months, DJ-ing at The Atik for events with an organization called Get2gether, and I do that off the laptop via an app called Virtual DJ. Of course, for now, get-togethers are not gonna be able to happen at The Atik until, at least Christmas either, – nightclubs also aren’t allowed to open right now, we are just doing it live on Zoom and having it every month instead, but, unfortunately, for the first three months of lockdown, I wasn’t actually able to DJ at any of the events as I didn’t really have any equipment of my own at home to do DJ-ing.
I had applied for a grant from the ILF to receive DJ-ing equipment during lockdown and the application was successful, and I received the equipment. To DJ on Zoom, I have a laptop, I play music via Virtual DJ, and share the computer sound. I’ve been practicing DJ-ing a lot at home now that I have this equipment.
Also before the pandemic, every Tuesday, I would go to a local community radio station called SAM Radio where I play music live: even though, the pandemic is dying down a bit, they still understandably don’t feel too safe about opening up, so we’re doing podcasts at the moment instead, which has certainly been a great experience all the same. I had never recorded a podcast before; on the plus side the pandemic has encouraged me to try a lot of new things.
At the moment, there are queues of people everywhere in Edinburgh, even though I have only been in town once since the pandemic (it was for the department of magic, a Harry Potter themed place with the escape rooms where you have to do puzzles and stuff, like making potions e.g. to escape, that was as a birthday celebration as I turned 22 a few weeks ago.) But, yeah it was a lot of fun; was a bit difficult but of course I managed to get there in the end and I guess I can officially say I’m now a wizard!”
Adam joined Creative Pathways in 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, but still managed to complete the course and secure himself a job;
Adam joined Creative Pathways in 2020 hoping to learn new creative skills, develop and commit to a good positive routine, build confidence, meet new people and recognise skills related to employability. He was initially apprehensive about meeting new people and speaking out in the group when he joined our Creative Pathways programme but seemed content to be taking part.
Adam seemed determined to get into a new routine and the group had many opportunities to discuss wellbeing, sleeping patterns, setting alarms as well as spontaneous chats about Creative Pathways being so different from school. By week 4 Adam seemed more at ease within the group, telling us;
“I’m happy and I’ve not been happy for a long time, and I feel I’m getting into a new routine and that’s helping me feel less tired.” – Adam
Adam had 99% attendance and quickly grew to participate fully in all activities, individual creative challenges, group work, employability tasks and SQA units.
Adam worked within a group of 13 young people as a team, he contributed suggestions and thoughts regularly, and was kind, patient and appreciative of his team. He got a lot out of being amongst his peer group and was able to recognise his skills, qualities and talents and sounds optimistic about his future.
Adam sourced and started training for a job at one of the COVID centres following completion of Creative Pathways. He is very proud of what he has achieved and was glad to be starting work. He would also like to go to college and is exploring options relating to photography and film.
“I have to say that Creative Pathways has been an amazing experience. It’s helped me with my confidence. It’s helped me improve on my drawing and photography and its gave me a good routine. If I could replay a moment in life I’d love to do over Creative Pathways, I loved it!” – Adam
“It has been life changing for him. He learnt new skills, built his confidence and achieved a lot of firsts.” – Parent
Rebecca joined Creative Pathways in 2019;
Rebecca lives at home with her parents in quite a busy household as she is one of 9 siblings. Rebecca had just turned 16 when she started Creative Pathways. She had been excluded from school and reports that school was not a good environment for her.
“I didn’t used to go to school much, but I like coming here.” – Rebecca
Rebecca displayed a great deal of adaptability during the project. She contributed to various aspects of the film production – constructing the costumes, acting, working with another participant to rehearse a scene to be performed live at the showcase, working with another YP to write and record the soundtrack. She loved working collaboratively with other participants. Her and another participant would isolate themselves from the group in order to concentrate on matching the lyrics to the guitar and was able to ask for help when she needed it. At the start she was struggling to find a melody for her lyrics but was able to work with the creative lead in order to create a personal and quirky tune which fitted well with the music created by anther young person. She persevered and wanted to get better at singing and took on board the advice of the Creative Lead gave her.
(After hearing the song for the first time edited) Creative lead: “You should be proud of yourself.”
Rebecca: “I actually am, that’s amazing I love it!“
Rebecca was supported to take the train for the first time and subsequently started taking the train every morning. This was significant for Rebecca as she had never taken the train before and was very anxious about doing so.
Near the beginning of the project Rebecca had some issues around her communication with others in the group, particularly more introverted young people. We discussed this with Rebecca. She accepted the feedback and made a concerted effort to be more tactful and adapt her approach/ communication to the person and situation. This was not smooth sailing and at times Rebecca had to be reminded about respecting people’s boundaries and appropriate workplace conduct. However, Rebecca continuously took feedback on board and worked on her approach. Towards the end of the project on a number of occasions Jenny (Pastoral Lead) purposely paired Rebecca with members of the group who benefitted from encouragement in a small group and pair work, and it worked really well.
Rebecca was able to encourage participation from peers who weren’t able to share ideas as readily, without taking over.
“I’ve gotten so much better at understanding people’s boundaries!” – Rebecca
Rebecca wants to go to college, she has been considering whether she wants to study performance or social sciences. She’s interested in drama and performance but she also loves working with people. She currently volunteers at a youth club in her local area. She’s now decided she wants to study social sciences and is working on her personal statement. She is much more concisions about the environment and has expressed her will to recycle more at home. During the lockdown she has started to make exercise routines which she shares with her niece in order to keep active.
“I am much more conscious about the environment and every time I am going to throw something into the bin I think about Elina (Creative Lead) and put the recycling into the recycling bin.” – Rebecca
In 2018 Laura joined our Creative Pathways course and was successful getting a place in college and a job at a fashion retailer!
Laura lived in Glasgow with her mother. Her dad left the household when she was young, contributing to an unstable home environment. She dropped out of school at 16, and found it very difficult to re-enter education to pursue her interest in photography. She had little to no structure or framework for working towards her goals.
When the tutors first met Laura, she was distant and guarded. She did however express a desire to go to college, and said that she needed a course to help her develop a portfolio. She was also keen to get help finding employment. From the beginning, Laura showed that although she had confidence issues, she was dedicated to her opportunity at Impact Arts.
She impressed everyone with her photography skills and personal fashion style. At first she struggled with punctuality and committing herself to certain workshops and projects, but as the weeks progressed it became clear Laura was willing to keep pushing herself to overcome these barriers.
Laura struggled most with having confidence in her own creative ideas. In concept generation and prototyping workshops during the first weeks, she sat and stared at the floor. Her inability to move past her own mental barriers and trust her creative process was palpable. She was extremely frustrated, and would regress dramatically during these workshops.
However, through repetition and reframing the way Laura was asked to come up with and express creative concepts, she slowly began to trust her own process and generate work confidently. Eventually, she came up with a beautiful concept for the final series of sculptures – an inverted urban grid cast out of concrete. She ultimately created the city out of boxes of tea, clay and toothpaste, secured these “buildings” with hot glue, and then poured concrete over these to create the final sculpture.
Although Laura had always been drawn towards photography, through Creative Pathways she was able to develop and cultivate more creative interests. Her natural interest towards fashion was always evident, however in the beginning of the project she did not believe that she could consider fashion as a career. Through her employability based work with Impact Arts’ Opportunities Co-ordinator, she undertook her SQA Steps to Work Award – which involved community engagement sessions with people in north Glasgow. She also gained her Employability Award, completing the Responsibilities of Employment unit (covering workers’ rights and employers’ expectations), the Preparing for Employment unit (looking at her skills and weaknesses and how her life experiences translate to the work environment) and the Building Own Employability Skills unit (involving CV-building, job searching, interview skills and goal-setting).
“The course has been really helpful in getting me thinking about art in a different way. Before, I would look at a painting or something and just think ‘I like that’ or ‘I don’t like that’ – but now I’m really thinking about what the artwork means or what it’s trying to say.” – Laura
Laura discovered the different career paths someone with an interest in fashion can pursue, and was ultimately successful in securing a college place in Fashion for when she finished the course. She was also successful in securing a job at a clothing shop in Glasgow city centre.
“Fashion was always something I was interested in but never something I thought I could do professionally. Talking to people at Impact Arts about what jobs there are showed me that it could be a career path, and I don’t think I would have had the confidence otherwise to go to college for it.” – Laura
“I would have never got the job without my employability work. Doing the mock interviews really boosted my confidence.”– Laura
Positive outcomes for Kendall in 2017;
Kendall dropped out of school very young after experiencing severe bullying to the point where she struggled to get out of bed in the morning. Upon leaving school, Kendall became reclusive and shut herself away from her peers, fearing any further taunting. At this point in her life, she turned to alcohol and drugs for comfort, eventually abusing substances to the point of overdose. As a result, she was thrown out of her home by her Mum and eventually settled with her Gran after months of staying with friends.
When Kendall joined Impact Arts’ Creative Pathways course in Barrhead at the age of 16, she had very little confidence or self-esteem. Although on the face of things she is a lovely girl with a bubbly outlook, this masked a sadder side. Kendall suffered from severe anxiety, depression, panic attacks and spoke often about having suicidal thoughts.
It was clear that Kendall was finding it difficult to work with others in a group context. She had been so used to her own company that social anxiety had become a barrier to her participating in anything.
Eventually, as part of the course, she visited several places along with the group, including the Camera Obscura exhibition in Edinburgh, Rouken Glen Park, Glasgow’s Museum Resource Centre and the Letraset Exhibition at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. It was a huge step in her journey that she attended these and faced her fear of being out in public.
Kendall started to become more accustomed to being in company and began to interact freely and ask questions at visits. She began taking more care in her appearance and told us that she was socialising at weekends instead of shutting herself away. Her confidence was bolstered by the friends she was making in the group and the different experiences she gained visiting new places. She began to see herself as the kind, bubbly character the artists and fellow participants knew her as.
As part of their SQA Enterprise unit, Kendall and her group were asked to plan, design and create a wall mural for Barrhead’s Auchenback Resource Centre. This took a lot of research, planning and liaising with the centre staff and users to come up with a design that was suitable for everyone. This process helped Kendall develop a variety of skills including painting, drawing, communication and social skills.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. You work with the best people – you couldn’t meet better people.” – Kendall
“It’s really nice to be a part of something and do something nice for the community. Being on the course has helped me to feel like myself again.” – Kendall
After successfully completing the 12-week programme, Kendall gained a position on a next-stage employability program with Rathbone and began applying for jobs to get work experience to put towards her dream of working in childcare.
Looking back at our work from the past 5 years of Our Bright Future and Creative Pathways. Highlighting some of the amazing achievements of young people who took part in the project.
Kevin took part in the Creative Pathways programme Glasgow in July 2016.
Kevin was 16 when he joined our Creative Pathways programme and lived with his mum in the East end of Glasgow. He began Creative Pathways in the summer after a short spell of being unemployed after dropping out of college. Kevin had been at college studying plastering but he wanted to get in to outdoors work and had a particular interest in forestry. Kevin was really quiet and closed off when he first started and displayed intimidating body language. He had difficulty speaking clearly and displayed signs of being inwardly aggressive, and outwardly disruptive due to lack of confidence.
At the beginning of the 14 weeks, Kevin found his place within the dynamics of the group, and fitted in well amongst his peers, although was found to be easily distracted and detached from tasks set to the group. Kevin found it hard to be creative in the class, and was drawn towards physical tasks such as clearing the drive, wood work, and tasks aimed more towards his interests. By week 3, Kevin had created a bird house made from wood, and seemed excited to begin working with wood and screws, as apposed to paint and paper. Being visibly proud of this piece of work, week 4 was a turning point in Kevin’s attitude towards being productive, as he began to understand the importance environmental art in the community. Kevin’s confidence grew and he displayed great social skills improving his verbal communication. His body language changed as he felt more settled and he began to look relaxed and happy.
He gained confidence in the validity of his ideas and suggestions, and recognised his importance within the group to the extent he was able to work unsupervised with no worry of being disruptive.
Kevin worked hard on his SQA paperwork throughout the project and gained a full Employability Award, he also built up a really exciting portfolio of work and gained his Bronze Arts Award. Kevin applied for a job with Cadder Housing Association in week ten and was successful in securing the position. He started with Cadder before the Creative Pathways project finished.
The familiar sound of bagpipes opened the CashBack to the Future 2019 showcase at the Barrowlands. Our piper, Dan, led us to the stage, where the show began with a screening of the East Ayrshire digital arts team’s Killy TV production. Broadcasting their version of a newscast, the young people showed us their particularly satirical vision of mythology and supernatural events in Scotland.
With a smile already on the faces of audience members, the show continued with theatrical and musical performances, and screenings of the digital arts from the groups from across Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and Edinburgh.
“Very inspiring indeed! Incredible performances and artworks, so much talent. Safe to say the future is very BRIGHT!”
The Ayrshire group displayed spectacular costumes, props and scenery in a theatrical piece inspired by Scottish stereotypes. The audience even witnessed a battle between giant bottles of Irn Bru and Coca Cola! (with Irn Bru prevailing to the agreement of the crowd).
The performance group from Paisley beautifully performed a sword dance and moved the audience with their poetry and words which shared an aspirational and optimistic vision of the future of Scotland – all set against a backdrop of amazing images from across Scotland. The Edinburgh group’s dance, which imitated weaving movements, was invocative, while the Glasgow group took the audience by surprise, unveiling the giant Nessie they had created over the course of CashBack to the Future.
The intermission provided a welcome opportunity for the audience to visit the exhibitions of the visual arts groups. The team from Glasgow dazzled us with their landscape paintings, screen printing, warrior masks, tartan and portraits. The Edinburgh group left us impressed with their huge pheasant costume – formerly Laird Pheasant McPheasantface – speech bubbles and weaving artwork. Equally impressive, the group from Refrewshire group exhibited a huge Scottish Landscape mural and their fun papier mache haggis. All the while, two hardworking participants were busy completing very popular commissions of banana drawings – “We’ll paint a banana holding anything” read the sign!
The work of each individual, and each group was appreciated equally, but there was real value demonstrated through the collaborations between the digital arts and performance groups, we could also see their visual art group’s artwork contributing the collective work of all the performances. The Glasgow group demonstrated their ability to use digital tools and software creatively by incorporating traditional images of Scotland into contemporary interpretations of modern Scottish life and culture. Young people from Edinburgh featured their interviews with visitors of the National Museum of Scotland.
Back on stage, now it was the turn of the bands, singers and various music groups. There was an eclectic variety of musical styles and genres. Glasgow’s groups made us dance with lively modern music, punk rock and moved us with a slow song – all original compositions. The performance of the Paisley band – including, covers of Bring Me The Horizon and Billy Eilish – was delivered with real energy, and the rhythm of Edinburgh’s interpretation of a Gaelic call-and-return, alongside a very catchy mashup of the Procalimers, Simple Minds, and Runrig, provided a more traditional feeling to the performances and the meaning behind them.
The show’s finale featured all the young people coming together on stage and performing the popular song ‘Sweet Dreams, by Eurythmics, ending the showcase on a high, with a great feeling of excitement and achievement.
“What an amazing event! Better art than I’ve seen in The Tate London, better bands than I’ve seen in the Hydros and better plays than the Fringe! These young folks will go a long way. Big up Impact Arts!”
Want a bit more information about the Cashback to the Future? Download our new Brochure for 2019!
If you have any questions, please contact Impact Arts on 0141 575 3001 or email [email protected]
Cashback to the Future is funded by the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities initiative, which backs projects supporting disadvantaged young people.
In North Ayrshire, CashBack to the Future is supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Young Roots Fund.
A special thanks to our community partners, Glasgow Kelvin College, National Museum of Scotland, Ayrshire College, and Tannahill Centre.