Community

Two of Folio’s key engagement partners are The Harbour Project, who support refugees and asylum seekers living in Swindon and Carers Trust UK, for whom we deliver workshops with Young Adult Carers.

With all our work, we aim to deliver a transformative step-change for the most marginalised and often overlooked people in the community. Participation with community groups enables us to co-create and develop ideas for future productions and projects. At the centre of our work is the desire to use our creative practice to support increased skill development and wellbeing for the diverse communities that make up our beautiful county, Wiltshire.

Through our engagement strategy, we inspire communities to re-connect to arts and culture in their immediate locality. We produce new, contemporary and relatable plays, redefining how Wiltshire is portrayed and our development process puts Wiltshire at its heart, supporting communities and theatre makers across the county to invest in a creative process and make work together.

Folio and Harbour Project

Much has been written about the economic impacts of Covid and detrimental effects of isolation on mental wellbeing, but acutely apparent to frontline charities, albeit less well documented, were the repercussions for asylum seekers and refugees. Among the poorest and at the margins of society, these people were disproportionately affected. Without easy access to food, companionship, and public health information, many felt abandoned.

At Swindon’s Harbour Project, which serves 550+ asylum seekers and refugees from 47 countries, they saw first-hand how the pandemic affected every aspect of people’s lives, how it exacerbated mental health issues, and feelings of abandonment, loneliness and isolation. Almost all the social side of life at the Harbour was paused. In-person attendance onsite dropped by 87%. To help rebuild a sense of involvement and wellbeing, a need for community re-engagement has been identified, with a creative and participative approach at its heart.

We know from our pilot workshops in 2022 with The Harbour Project’s Women’s Group that our work can have a significant impact and we are now in the midst of delivering regular creative workshops as part of a programme co-designed with participants. 

Impact

  • Offering female refugees and asylum seekers, isolated by economic and geographic barriers, frequent creative and highly engaging activities, to enjoy with others as a shared experience
  • Developing communication skills
  • Enhancing health and wellbeing through creative exercises such as verbal and physical warm ups, breathing exercises, improvisation games, movement and creative writing
  • Increasing opportunities for our participants to express themselves and build confidence in exploring new things
    Practical (public speaking etc.) and interpersonal skills development, particularly important for our participants whose employment options are severely restricted
  • Thanks to a partnership with Swindon Theatres, access to high quality theatre and comedy events

Folio and Carers Trust

We have been delivering workshops for Young Adult Carers in partnership with Carers Trust since 2015, and this is work we develop and deliver year on year.

As well as enabling us to support Young Adult Carers with an interest in theatre, we strive as a company to engage with audiences and young people who are not regularly engaged with the arts, and our partnership with Carers Trust really helps us to achieve this. A number of participants who attend our workshops have little to no previous experience in drama. The reasons for these participants’ attendance ranges from wanting to do something fun, wanting to build their confidence, to wanting something to do to get out of the house and have a break. We are always impressed by invariably how much this group throw themselves into the activities and how taken those who saw the show were with it, particularly as some of them have never been to the theatre before.

Make it local

In 2022 we piloted our new workshop programme ‘Make it Local’ for communities across Wiltshire. This was delivered free of charge, supported by People’s Post Code Lottery, to emerging artists (mobilising the rural freelance workforce) and adult participants (looking to be creatively upskilled), employing a Wiltshire team to support delivery.

This programme included:

  • Workshops for emerging theatre artists, offering a practical workshop that empowers and equips young theatre makers with the confidence and tools to deliver exciting theatre to their local communities
  • Workshops with local professional artists looking at how to create and maintain a career outside of a big city
  • Workshops for the wider community interested in creative skill development, hosted at village halls and over zoom.

If you are interested in having a conversation with us around any of our engagement work or workshop programmes please contact the team at engagement@foliotheatre.co.uk

A huge thanks to our supporters

Arts council england
chapman charitable trust
the jack lane charitable trust
peoples postcode trust
wiltshire-community-foundation
The facilitators are so professional but also very friendly and welcoming to children and are able to adapt their communication style to better suit the children they are interacting with. The activities are really fun and inclusive and suit children of a wide age range and background. The conversation between activities is gentle but thought-provoking and the facilitators used Zoom features to collate ideas from the children and get them thinking about creativity within themselves and what they are good at which is great for their self-esteem. I would really recommend this workshop and would love to take part again!
Centre Manager, B&NES Carers - Carers Trust
The session exceeded my hopes for the workshop. I hoped that it would be a chance for our Young Carers to feel less isolated and alone, and give them the chance to have a break from their caring role, which it did, but they got so much more out of it! The main benefit for the attendees was that it gave them the chance to think about their futures and broaden their horizons. The participants were encouraged to share their ideas, and their contributions were valued and engaged with. The staff were enthusiastic throughout, and both our staff and our Young Carers can’t wait for the next workshop!
Centre Manager - Enfield Carers - Carers Trust
“It was all very good. Really good fun and enjoyable”
Participant feedback - Carers Trust
“I loved the improvisation. Thank you”
Participant feedback - Carers Trust
“I laughed so much! Much appreciated. Thank you”
Participant feedback - Carers Trust
“It was fun and inclusive”
Participant feedback - Carers Trust
“The workshop boosted my confidence”
Participant feedback - Carers Trust
“I’d love to learn ways to manage my speech problems”
Participant feedback - Carers Trust
“That was wonderful”
The Harbour Project, Swindon
“That was a new experience for me!”
The Harbour Project, Swindon
“I liked being connected as a group. Other activities, yoga, sewing, are personal. You don’t always remember each others names”
The Harbour Project, Swindon
“The Folio workshops are a completely new experience for the women. It’s fantastic to see them developing their confidence to perform. There is so much laughter in the room and the women appear more relaxed after the sessions. This is important given the stresses that being in the asylum system can give”
Mia O’Sullivan, Female Visitor Engagement Lead.