Funded by Beacons for Wales, Ten young people aged between 13 and 18 from the Barnardo's Neath Port Talbot Partnership spent seven days and six nights in student halls in Swansea Metropolitan University on a residential drama week. They worked with a team of drama practitioners and technical students to produce their own piece of work based on the theme of 'Our Place in the Future'. The week began on Saturday 24th July 2010 and the performance took place on Friday July 30th. The young people rehearsed for four sessions each day at the Townhill Theatre, where they worked with the practitioners to produce their own creative piece of work incorporating their own ideas about being teenagers in today's society. Each evening they had the opportunity to relax and experience different activities that they would not usually have the opportunity to do, for example dry slope skiing and horse riding. The performance was very well received, with an excellent review in the South Wales Evening Post. The young people attended a film premiere on September 22nd and they had the opportunity to reflect on their work and take a copy of the DVD home with them.
Project Aims & Outcomes
To engage the young people of Barnardo's to think about their future in more positive terms.
To use theatrical techniques that would empower young people to encourage solution-focused thinking.
To establish a network of interaction, engagement and volunteering between SMU and Barnardo's Cymru.
To give SMU staff and students a broader knowledge of the operation and nature of the third sector.
A more positive outlook for the future on the part of the young people involved.
A sense of achievement in having realised an intensively creative project with a group of peers.
Academic staff and students gain specific understanding and skills from working with a third sector group.
There is the basis of a long-term engagement between the university and the third sector in future projects of this kind within the voluntary and other networks.
Outcomes for Barnardo's:
Increased confidence and social skills for its service users, in line with the identified Barnardo's outcomes which link directly to the Welsh Government 'Rights to Action' document.
Improved communication skills both for its service users and its staff and volunteers through participation in a project with Swansea Metropolitan University.
Extended its engagement with the community at large.
Created further links with an outside organisation which will help to establish a volunteering network with the HE sector.
Enhanced peer relationships through the participation of service users, staff and volunteers in the communal activity of a drama workshop.
Communicated the unique nature of the needs of Barnardo's service users, staff and volunteers to an academic institution with a view to making that organisation more aware of the needs of the third sector in its future activities.
Provided an opportunity for its service users to partake in play, leisure, social and cultural activities.
Outcomes for Swansea Metropolitan University:
Make significant discoveries concerning the nature of a third sector organisation and understood the unique issues which face such organisations with a view to forging future links with such organisations.
Learn to work in collaboration with a third sector organisation in order to extend its participation in the community and identify ways of working which could be applied and adapted to other HE organisations.
Have a greater understanding of how theoretical concepts of working need to be adapted in order to make them relevant to a Third Sector organisation and their service users.
Recognise the value of applying techniques of empowerment with those who are often identified as being outside the normal channels of communication for educational and HE organisations.
Train staff and students in techniques for managing difficult behaviour with challenging young people that will help them to adopt more effective approaches to working with their colleagues and fellow students in the HE context.
The Teen Talk Back project proved to be a huge success for all those involved - and particularly for the young people and students for whom the project was created. As participants, the young people involved engaged with all aspects of the project, remained focussed throughout and achieved the main aim of presenting a performance of work which reflected their concerns about their place in society and the future. This provided the young people the opportunity to present their experience to those with whom they are directly engaged, their parents, carers, volunteers, support workers and those running Barnardo's Cymru.
SMU and Barnardo's have learned to work together and to gain insights from the values and culture of each organisation. The relationship has continued and since Teen Talk Back there has been two pantomimes (involving young people, their parents/carers, support workers and volunteers). We have students working as interns in three new areas in addition to Neath Port Talbot and young people from Barnardo's Cymru have taken part in two Reaching Wider funded 'Play in a Weekends'.
The project has become a template for other successful projects.
Six initial drama sessions with young people took place before the residential drama week to stimulate the young people into thinking about their experiences as teenagers and their perception of the future.
Questionnaire about the expectations of the staff and students involved in the project.
Workshops took place each day culminating in a performance at the end of seven days, all of which is captured on film.
A DVD and film premiere two months after the performance where the young people were given the opportunity to reflect on their achievements and were asked to fill in evaluation forms capturing their views on the project in relation to the desired outcomes.
A video diary room. The young people were given the opportunity to share their views, wishes and thoughts before and during the project. Questions were asked in relation to the desired outcomes.