ARE WE LISTENING….? Everyone Has a Story Exhibition

Kelly McFadden, Grants Advisor, Partnership Drugs Initiative. 

One of my favourite parts of working on the Partnership Drugs Initiative (PDI) programme is the days we have our Young People’s Steering Group . Each funding round, the PDI team get to hang out with these incredible young people , our experts by experience, who give up their time to help us by sharing their thoughts and recommendations about applications. We eat pizzas and Haribo, run riot in our Board Room (don’t tell the Corra HR team!) and we talk about what works for children and young people affected by alcohol and drugs. Listening to young people is at the core of what we do as PDI, and for our aspirations for driving forward the recommendations from Everyone Has a Story (EHAS), our 2016 action learning project. The launch of Everyone Has a Story Exhibition which will give people the chance to view the thought-provoking films, stories and images created by children and young people across Scotland. The exhibition will be held at Image Collective, Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh and will be open to the public from 10am Wednesday 10th April and displayed until 8pm Monday 29th April.

In 2017 the Partnership Drugs Initiative (PDI) administered the EHAS small practice fund on behalf of the Scottish Government. This fund provided small pots of money (up to £5000) to organisations working with children and  young people affected by drugs or alcohol, to enable them to take forward the recommendations in EHAS research report.

The organisations in receipt of funding from the EHAS small practice fund offered a variety of creative and therapeutic activities for young people with the focus on sharing their thoughts, experiences and stories. Children told their stories through various mediums including expressive design, painting, film, drawing, writing and photography.

Last year I was lucky enough to attend an exhibition at the North East Arts centre which was delivered through Circle, a family support service in Edinburgh who were a recipient of the EHAS funding. The exhibition showcased photographs taken by a group of young people affected by parental substance use. These breath-taking images showed the lives and experiences of the young people behind the photos. Many of the images had a startling and brutal honesty; displaying the reality and conflicting emotions of a young person living with a parent who has an alcohol or drug issue in an incredibly powerful way.

Girl on a swing

All by myself’ Circle aged 16 years

‘A picture really can speak a thousand words……a collection of striking images that touched all who attended.’ North Edinburgh News

‘It was hard to view but I didn’t realise the impact of my drinking.’ Parent

'lies' written in stones

‘Truth’ Circle age 15 years

Children painting an elephant

Barnado’s Emoji group

Children and young people with the paper mache elephant

Barnado’s Emoji group North Ayrshire

Barnardo’s Emoji group, North Ayrshire showcased several amazing exhibits. The poignant ‘elephant in the room’ – a large papier Mache model was another show stopper and truly conveyed the young people’s feelings and thoughts around drugs and alcohol. Symbolising that often their parent’s addiction was an ever present but never acknowledged part of life, the elephant was a collaboration between several of the young people involved in the EHAS project.

The EHAS small practice fund showed the importance of offering different creative methods to support and encourage children and young people to share their stories.  Everyone Has a Story research illustrated that listening and responding to children and young people is critical. Listening to funded projects talk about the impact and importance of being able to offer children and young people different ways to share their stories and viewing these exhibitions emphasised the importance of using expressive arts as a therapeutic intervention.

Too many of our children and young people in Scotland face adversity through poverty, neglect, addiction and mental health. We all must do our very best to help, but to help, first we MUST LISTEN .

 

The Exhibition will open with a launch night on April 9th 6-8pm, email james@corra.scot to find out more and come along to Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh. 

The Exhibition will be open to the public from Wednesday 10th April and displayed until 26th April.