Tag: young people

Crafts, Social Justice and Social Media #makingforchange

Craftivism Making for change

A couple of weeks ago we spent a whole week out of the office working with a group of 16 – 25 year olds  on the #MakingforChange project –  using Craftivism for social justice campaigns. The project was developed by Craftspace a Birmingham based organisation that creates “opportunities to see, make and be curious about exceptional contemporary craft.”

So what is Craftivism? Craftivism is a form of activism that is centered on practices of craft.

It is low level, often non confrontational activism that allows people to participate, slow down and discuss the issues at hand.

The making for change project introduced Craftivism as a way for the young people to talk about the things they cared about, and they had a week develop a campaign and a craft project that they could deliver to an audience. They worked hard to understand what social justice meant, what it means to campaign using craft, and to experiment using different craft techniques before their showcase on the Friday evening

The campaigns they ran included many topics from environmental concerns, with recycling and the declining bee numbers to loneliness and race issues, such as immigration and stop and search.

So where did Podnosh come in?

Well we’re obviously not artists or social justice campaigners in our day jobs, so we concentrated on what we knew best. Data and social media. For any campaign to be successful you need to have the facts and figures to back up your claims, and have a audience to share them with. So that’s what we worked on.

We introduced the idea of data, search and social media early on, before the group had even decided on what campaigns they would like to run, and then stayed around throughout the week to offer one on one support to help them with their specific projects .

In actual fact the one on one support was particularly useful because while we didn’t plan for it to be this way, as the groups and individuals were exploring issues and coming to us for help finding data we were able to help them refine their ideas and their message.

For instance one group Vishal , Rahul , Sanam  and Terell, came to us wanting to look at some very broad issues around stereotyping and racism, with a desire to do something that reflected their experiences, but they didn’t know what. They were thinking big, but didn’t know what they wanted to say. It was only by sitting and talking to them about issues they had faced and showing them some available data that they narrowed it down to stop and search – and the disproportionate amount of minority youths that get stopped – something they had first had experience of – and that refining of their message shaped their campaign.

Stop and Search Data

On the other hand another individual, Siandana came to use with a fully established idea – she wanted to to run a campaign about waste, but focusing on how litter can kill wildlife and had already developed a craft project around recycling plastic bottles into bird feeders.

Recycled bird feeder

She just wanted help on finding facts and figures to help prove her point and hopefully spread her idea further. We looked at what numbers would help her and we settled on data about the amount of time it takes different types of rubbish to break down, which she displayed on her table and hung off her feeders as discussion starters for whenpeople we busy making.



We also helped her consider using hashtags to share her reuse or recycle for wildlife message if she was to continue with her campaign, and she decided that #GoodRubbish would be a nice play on words – she actively encouraged people through the showcase evening to tweet pictures of their makes using the tag,


These are just 2 examples from the week, in all there were 6 different campaigns we supported, and all of them just as interesting.

Sarah ran a campaign to Save the Bees, Mahnaz on integration in communities and what it means to be British. Heather looked at the stigma around mental health and Jaswant  explored issues around isolation and loneliness.

We supported all of them in one way or another and it’s been really pleasing that since the project has finished both Mahnaz and Sarah have been in touch for some extra support as they are both interested in taking their campaigns further – and continuing making for change.


Saving the streets: A new podcast from the Grassroots Channel

Jenni Rowley

Jenni Rowley, isn’t your average 20-something woman. She spends her evenings out on the streets in Northfield, trying to prevent Anti Social Behaviour and crime in the area and getting young people involved in  a number of projects. One of these projects is the Beyond Midnight Bus, which parks up in Northfield, kitted out with DVD players, stereo, internet and recording studio and has become a place for young people to hang out and talk about what they want to see in their area.

As a support worker for INVOLVE (while she is not in her day job in property management), a community group in the Northfield area which aims to help get funding for local projects young people want to do. Jenni says working on the streets with young people and local authorities has opened her eyes and given her confidence. She tells us how excited she is to be nominated for the Young Person’s Birmingham’s Local Hearts Award, in the young people category.

Heavily Involved in Northfield – a new podcast for the Grassroots Channel

Involve Northfield (well some of them!)

Involve is Northfield’s Young Peoples Forum – it was set up in 2005 for 12-19-year-olds to meet monthly.

Involve are given money by local government, which they can then distribute to young people to help them run various activities or projects which they would not otherwise have been able to do. Through this they help young people develop a number of skills such as organisation, teamwork and communication skills. INVOLVE believe they are giving a voice to young people – to get their opinions across to people with power in Northfield and to further that they recently launched their own website: www.involvenorthfield.com (dead link).

In the last three years the group have distributed £75,000 of community chest money and £20,000 of youth opportunity fund to individual young people and groups and projects. They recently started their own radio show and videocasting channel – getting young people to comment and debate on prominent issues such as abuse in a relationship. This podcast was recorded in October 2009, just after they had been shortlisted for Local Hearts Award. It has Nick Booth talking to Karen Cheney, Luke Bowles, Sophie Lynch, Jo – spoz – Esposito and Lauren Synott.

Hawksley Young Volunteers: A new podcast on the Grassroots Channel

Shirley Malone, Gemma ONeill and Aimee Coakley of the Hawkesley Young Volunteers in Kings Norton - Birmingham.
Shirley Malone, Gemma O’Neill and Aimee Coakley of the Hawkesley Young Volunteers in Kings Norton – Birmingham.

Aimee Coakley first came across the Hawksley “young vols” as a small child.  She watched them working in her neighbourhood in Kings Norton in Birmingham and wanted to be one.

Thanks to that experience she has traveled as far afield as France and India, cleaned streets, helped people keep their gardens tidy and supporting friends and neighbours.  Now she has a job because of her volunteer experience. Hers is just one of dozens of stories which explain why the Hawksley Young Volunteers were shortlisted for a Local Hearts Awards in October 2009.  For more, listen to the podcast below.