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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org