The Scargills project took place in March 2021, during the third lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic. As our projects often take place around a geographical location, we had hoped to be able to run the sessions in person. However, due to the ongoing restrictions we had to move sessions online.
Moving online opened up the possibilities for blended learning, where we delivered art packs to people along with booklets with instructions for completing the weekly tasks. These were complemented by weekly catch up sessions over Zoom. On the one hand, this made the sessions more accessible for people to attend as it cut down on travelling and provided more options for people with mobility issues and those who were shielding.
It did however, highlight the increasing divide in the city, where many people are digitally excluded through lack of access to technology, wifi and data. The partners we would usually work with were stretched to capacity supporting others in need, but thankfully we were able to use some of the materials budget to pay for data where required.
Even ensuring access to a connection, the construction and location of social housing had a tendency to block mobile phone signals. In addition to this, the format of Zoom did not allow space for the incidental conversations and pastoral support that often accompany community workshops.
Despite this, participants enjoyed their weekly sessions, and the chance to reflect on a very strange year of being inside.
Pupils of Coop Academy
Through discussions with the local Coop Academy we were asked to work with some local students who were interested in learning about photography. Pupils were asked to respond to the same question as local residents. Through discussions with pupils it was clear they were invested in making the area a better place to be and responded with some interesting ideas about improving the lives of local residents.
This project was supported by funding from Leeds Inspired part of Leeds City Council and Leeds Inner East HAP funding