Case Study: Engagement, Participation, Inclusion, Citizenship is EPIC!

Authors(s), Creator(s) and Contributors: Wendy Keay-Bright

Publication Date: 08/08/2023

Categories: Case Studies

Partner(s): South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Cardiff School of Art and Design, Cardiff School of Sport and Social Policy, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Arts Council of Wales, Action for Children

Funder(s): South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Arts Council of Wales


EPIC stands for Engagement, Participation, Inclusion, Citizenship. The aim of EPIC is to provide opportunities for young people at risk of becoming involved in criminal behaviour with an alternative activity through the arts and creative industries. Introductory taster activities are offered followed by a series of short workshops that use visual language techniques to explore identity, culture and environment. Collaborating with industry professionals, we aim to demonstrate to young people how creativity can lead to outcomes that benefit society as well as local communities. Each participant is involved in creating a professional design book or portfolio that evidences their journey. Sessions are currently delivered with graduate alumni from Cardiff School of Art and Design (CSAD).

The Challenge

The challenge for EPIC is to generate a positive sense of identity and purpose for young people who may have been disenfranchised by the education system. Although arts and media workshops are available, we have found that children in the care of organisations such as Action for Children, are unlikely to have the confidence to join in these projects. Given that Cardiff is a hub for creative graduate talent, we are well placed to explore how the visual media and the creative process could offer a personal, structured, inclusive intervention for developing citizenship. A similar scheme, Step into Sport, is well established at the Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences. Evaluation evidenced that participation in sporting activity can offer genuine psychological and social benefits.

The Approach

The three-month pilot phase of EPIC project focussed on setting out a framework for conducting meaningful visual language and creative activities, working within the university safeguarding policies. Specific risk assessments and ethics procedures have been approved and quality assurance is overseen by two advisory groups: an executive board responsible for advice regarding funding, referrals and community engagement, and an advisory group with experience of working with young offenders. The latter will assist with recruitment and evaluation. We are also developing a Challenging Behaviour Training module with Ysgol Y Deri aimed at activity providers. Our pilot creative activities were conducted with study a young person (YP) who had been a victim of bullying and was regarded to be at risk of criminal activity. He was paired with two graduates who are now professional graphic designers. A taster session included a short presentation and meeting with the graduates to discuss the YP’s interests, motivation and ideas. The ideation process was explained, and a handout prepared on visual language and design tecniques. Two more activities followed with a small task in between. The final output of this process was a professionally styled portfolio of work.

The Impact

Engagement, Participation, Inclusion and Citizenship are the core values of the project which we sought to understand through a person-centred evaluation process. Our methods allowed us to gather data within each activity. Participation was recorded using drawings, photographs and an image library created by the YP. Engagement was documented using field notes, supplimented by support worker feedback. We noted an increase in the YP asking questions, volunteering ideas and requesting further activities. The YP began the sessions with an idea for creating his own clothing brand. As he learnt about visual language and the stages required to create a ‘look’ that customers could identify with, such as colour, font and ethos/story, he volunteered greater insight into his influences. This narrative was considered to be evidence of engagement. Inclusion and Citizenship were monitored through the YP willingness to feedback on his experiences and to participate in future workshops. Action for Children produced a positive independent report. There is growing interest in EPIC as a model for inclusion and citizenship, providing a route to personal agency and decision making that can be scaled and adapted to address social and environmental concerns.

Lessons Learned

The art school environment is busy and noisy at times, there are few boundaries in the studios, which was noted to be initially overwhelming. Future sessions should be conducted in a small, quiet spaces. The workshops were well-paced. Focus on YP’s interest helped to build trust. Visual methods reduced verbal language barriers. Involving graduates enabled mutual rapport and the opportunity to share skills. The design book offered a valuable output for the YP and could be used for employment and social interaction.

The Legacy

The young person has a starting point for his brand and the confidence to share it in a personal and professional capacity as he continues with his education and seeks employment. He has expressed interest in being an ambassador for EPIC, which will us engage other young people. The next phase will expand the range of activities, offering group sessions and recruiting other people through Action for Children and Cardiff Youth Justice Services. The project has potential to provide skills and experience for our graduate artists and designers.

Website and Social Media Links

For the next stage of EPIC we will set up a website and Instagram account. We would like to thank Action for Children for collaborating with us on this pilot study: Find out more about the professional graphic designers who delivered the sessions described in the case study here: Our partners and funders are: We are committed to working with the Children and Young People’s National Participation Standards:

Contact Details

Professor Wendy Keay-Bright

Tags: Young Offenders, Victims, People, Creative, Visual language, Arts and Design, Workshops, Portfolio, Identity, Agency, Action.

Engagement, Participation, Inclusion, Citizenship is EPIC!