Firebird Trust manage multi-faceted arts project in Looked after Children homes across Lincolnshire
The Firebird Trust and creative team member, Liam Robinson have been project managing an arts development project within Lincolnshire’s Looked after Children’s homes. This is a contract funded by Lincolnshire County Council. Working with a number of skilled artists and performers, Liam is delivering a diverse range of activities designed to increase the confidence and wellbeing of the homes’ young residents.
Firebird Trust and the arts providers have been engaging participants in activities that they wouldn’t normally have access to. Activities are currently being delivered in 6 Looked after Children’s homes. In three houses, residents have learning or physical disabilities and these sessions encourage positive behaviour and stimulate their senses, giving them a break from their usual routines. The other 3 homes are all mainstream residencies and activities within these houses are designed to create a cohesive atmosphere whilst building confidence and new skills. Liam and the arts providers have worked with each home to understand their needs and to create sessions that will not only engage the residents but staff too.
In one residency, Oksana Tyminska has delivered dance sessions to 6 boys who took part in varying levels. She used music and performance art to engage participants. One session evolved into a pantomime performance at the request of one of the residents. Oksana explains ‘The staff were really active and joining in not only with the boys but also for themselves which was really positive. They enjoyed the music and the physical exploration with the boys. It was quite rough and tumble and they felt this was good for the boys. The staff were inspired by the props and were discussing buying and implementing some of the ideas themselves.’
Mosaic artist – Fiona Gurney has been encouraging residents to explore their creativity by designing and developing their own mosaic tiles. These tiles will eventually make up a design that will take centre stage within another home’s garden.
Artist Marion Sander has been working with another home’s staff and residents to decorate their conservatory. Members of staff have become engaged with the project and have even gone as far as designing their own clay brick tiles which will feature prominently within the conservatory. As the sessions progress, Marion hopes to introduce glass paints, artist canvases and paper lanterns to decorate, all of which will create a welcoming space for residents within their home.
In one residency, Firebird Trust creative team member, Gary Hammond, led some drumming workshops; he says ‘they are really looking forward to me going back in. They were also surprised that some residents stayed for the whole of the session without leaving! The staff were ace and took part, all in all a good time was had.’
As well as managing the Looked after Children project, Liam Robinson has also been delivering sessions to some of the homes. Utilising his creativity and his innate ability to connect with people, Liam has designed a range of workshops including a dance and movement based Arts Circus. He encouraged residents to imitate circus performers including lion tamers and clowns. Using costumes, face paints and various props Liam encouraged residents with varying physical and mental abilities to join in. He says of one young participant ‘her reaction to my session was brilliant. She was animated throughout, she took part in everything, dressed up, had her face painted, face painted my face and the staff, danced, played instruments, twirled plates, juggling, etc. I think the smile never left her face whilst I was there.’
In one location, Liam delivered a musical storytelling session and re-enacted Roald Dahl’s ‘Enormous Crocodile’ tale. He used drama, costumes, tactile experiences and music to engage the residents participating in this workshop.
These are just a few of the multi-arts activities that are currently being delivered throughout Lincolnshire under the umbrella of the Looked after Children’s project. The Firebird Trust and Liam are working in conjunction with young people and staff in each home to develop bespoke programmes depending on their interests. This is to ensure longevity of the project and to provide residents with new experiences and opportunities to gain new skills they wouldn’t normally have access to.
This Looked after Children homes project will continue to evolve and as the practitioners get to know the residents of each home in more depth, they will be able to cater for their needs with a far greater variety of activities. The Firebird Trust look forward to reporting on the progress of this worthwhile project.