Case Study: The Art of Belonging

Authors(s), Creator(s) and Contributors: Y Ty Celf - The Art House Ltd CIC

Publication Date: 15/01/2024

Categories: Case Studies

Partner(s): Platfform4YP – Sarah Hamilton, MIND CYP Evolve Project – Ryan Stephens

Funder(s): Arts Council of Wales, Platfform 4 YP


The Art of Belonging, collaboration with Platfform4YP Swansea & CYP Evolve MIND Llanelli, for YP aged between 13-25 Providing a creative safe environment for young people to promote positive mental wellbeing, exploring a sense of belonging to help individuals connect with self and others. The 4-6 week term with the same artist/group enabled trust and rapport to build amongst peers and the artist. A relaxed atmosphere created a space for individuals to share their thoughts, feelings & experiences and to form friendships and develop creative skills. Each YTC artist planned their sessions to encourage self-expression and reflection through the artwork. Celebration of final pieces formed exhibitions at Swansea Waterfront Museum, Y Ty Celf annual Open exhibition and MIND present.

The Challenge

Platfform4YP and CYP Evolve work with young people facing a range of mental health challenges. Following Covid young people have lost social connections and confidence in group settings so the project aim was to ensure young people are heard, not alone facing challenges, exploring identity and belonging. The creative sessions were a non-judgemental, safe space for young people to explore and express feelings with positive role models, rather than be told what is best for them. We encouraged listening and sharing experiences through a coaching style approach to problem solving rather than being directive, building up decision making skills alongside the creative development. Clear evidence of need through a lack of similar provision in the area, the number of young people subscribing.

The Approach

Creative 15 month collaborative project providing safe exploratory space at Platfform4YP and YTC premises. Weekly after school and during holidays. Total workshops 54 x 2 hour sessions - Feb– Dec 2022: 37 Platfform4YP 8 Freelance artists & makers / 121 Young people attended Nov 22- March 2023: 17 MIND CYP 5 Freelance artists & makers / 26 Young people attended Workshops: working with clay, pyrography, drawing techniques, 2D visual arts utilising all mediums of paint, jewellery, copper work, masks, collage, lanterns, textile/ sewing. Artists: Hannah Thomas, Deborah Chapman, Patricia McParlin, Karen Fitzpatrick, Katy Lewis, Ruth Jones, Tim Jenkins, Karen Woods, Lisa Burkl, Sian Evans, Liz Barton Session support worker: Jayne Blakemore Total costs: £13,595 Per participant: Total costs: £13,595 divide by total participants: 137 = £99.23 pp Per workshop/exhibition: £13595 divide by workshop/exhibition total 57 = £251.75 per event Monitoring and evaluation visits ongoing by YTC to ensure quality and targets met and included Regular feedback 1:1 with artists Group chats with participants ACW review visit to MIND/YTC Funding body COOP visit to YTC – national video Celebratory exhibitions x 3 Safeguarding & supervision

The Impact

Young people experience loneliness at transition phases emphasised by Covid which impacts on well-being. YTC aimed to provide creativity in non-judgemental space to combat this. Ongoing evaluation, observation of workshops, discussions with participants, 1:1 with artists, discussion with session support, acting on feedback sheets. WEMBS scoring. The project has reached its intended outcomes in numbers of workshops, attendances, employment opportunities for freelance artists, session support worker. Evaluation indicates that young people have been encouraged and had the freedom to express themselves & explore identity & creativity resulting in a growth in confidence, a reduction in social anxiety, changes in behaviour and decision making skills. Data gathered from, participants, artists and managers - "Thinking outside the box, company, fun, therapeutic, having a laugh ,enjoyment" - The participants had such a willingness to participate and engage in the activities. They were creative, honest, expressive and very welcoming. - "more friendships, more open communication, willingness to attend on own, surprised at what is achievable, more comfortable than school, making progress & a difference, non judgemental.” - "Accessible – guided not managed”

Lessons Learned

Well: Artists identified what would support the YP/situation. Same session support increased rapport/trust. A wide range of art & craft Quarterly visits to programmes, 1:1 with artists/SS Exhibitions Partners providing SS 4-6 week terms - same artist. Not so well: Venue relocation led to drop in numbers Travel distance/time/fuel costs Tried Mindfulness– YP not ready Lessons learned: Improvements Safeguarding training scheduled April Training Equality/Gender Identity terminology Supervision for artists

The Legacy

The project had a positive impact on their well-being, forming friendships, developing mature relationships with adults & peers, and being able to share their experiences & self expression through art. We will continue to explore working with MIND going forward. Quote from ACW: It was really great to be able to meet you, see your spaces but especially the young people you’re working with. We found it really inspiring to see what a difference both of your organisations are making to young people’s lives and the local community.

Website and Social Media Links

MIND funders Coop visit to YTC to produce a national Video of the work being undertaken by YTC/ MIND. To be used in mental Health Awareness week in March 2023 / World Mental Health Day October 2023. - Welsh: – English :

Contact Details

Karen Thomas 07854003327

Tags: Art Forms 2D Visual Arts various mediums, abstract acrylics, watercolours, collage, inspirational sketch books, pencil drawing. 3D Craft, jewellery, clay self portraits, self expressive masks, glass, pyrography, paper lanterns, textile/sewing. Self Expression & reflection Target Group Young people with wide MH issues, family breakdown, substance misuse, gender identity, NEET. Health need To regain self confidence, trust amongst peers and adults, being heard as young people. Location Platfform4YP premises – relaxed informal setting purpose built for YP. Y Ty Celf – Creative hub with gallery, studio and workshop.

The Art of Belonging