Creative Insights: a collaboration exploring young people’s perspectives on health inequalities

Thu 28th October 2021

As part
of a collaboration between the University of Glasgow and Impact Arts, researchers
and artists spent three weeks with 21 young people from Glasgow, exploring
their perspectives on health inequalities through drawing, printmaking, and

are health inequalities and why are young people’s perspectives important?

There are many factors that shape a person’s
health. Many of the most important influences are not things that people choose
to do (e.g. diet, exercise) but are driven by circumstances outside of their
control. People living in the most affluent areas of Scotland are likely to
enjoy many more years of good health than those living in the least affluent
areas. These unfair differences in health experiences and outcomes across the
population are known as “health inequalities”.

Relatively little is known about what young
people think about the existence of health inequalities and what should be done
to address the issue. Young people’s perspectives are particularly important
now. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has worsened health inequalities in all areas
of life, had a disproportionate impact on young people with disruptions to
their education, mental health, relationships, and future outlooks.

In the Creative Insights project young people
in Glasgow and Leeds were invited to explore these issues together with artists
and researchers. The Glasgow groups worked with visual artists from Impact Arts
and the Leeds groups with performance artists at Leeds Playhouse.

did we do in Creative Insights?

Over the course of three, 4-day online
workshops, 21 young people from across Glasgow collaborated with artists and
researchers in group discussions and creative activities to explore diverse
understandings of what shapes health and our priorities for potential solutions
to the enduring existence of health inequalities.

In preparation, young people received creative
packs to their door, including lots of exciting materials for sketching,
collage, and printmaking.

Covid restrictions meant that groups were only
able to meet online. Artist Jack Stancliffe led creative activities to help get
to know each other, and make everyone comfortable with sharing their
experiences, feedback, and artworks over Zoom. Warm-up exercises, such as continuous
line self-portraits helped everyone get started with working creatively and
sharing their work online.

On the first day, we explored our experiences
of lockdown through a series of dialectograms: bird’s eye view drawings of the
spaces we frequented, experienced, or were excluded from during the pandemic.
The intricate line drawings young people produced revealed the nuance and
poignancy of common experiences related to school closures, shifting
relationships, and the importance of green spaces.

On day 2 and day 3, we worked with young
people to create posters that encapsulated their demands for change through
collage and printmaking techniques. Creative facilitator Beth Farmer introduced
us to the basics of block printing using Styrofoam sheets.

The posters clearly demonstrate the voice of
Generation Z, calling for change, demanding a seat at the table, and advocating
for more equitable and inclusive policy decision-making.

Each week culminated in a showcase event,
where young people shared their posters, their creative process, and articulated
their demands in front of an audience of researchers and industry professionals.

Lead Researcher, Gillian Fergie, said “Working
with Impact Arts and the incredible young artists that engaged in Creative
Insights has been a really valuable experience for me. The artworks they
produced make clear that now, more than ever, it is important that
decision-makers make space to hear from young people as key stakeholders in
future health and social policy decisions.”

What happens next?

We are currently working to collate everything
the young people shared with us, their reflections and all their artworks. If
you are interested in hearing more about the project please do get in touch: [email protected]

Head to the website featuring examples of the amazing creative
content produced

This work was supported by the Economic and
Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council [ES/S001913/1].

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