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The importance of setting the scene. Creative residency time for PRU team.

Group A aims to explore how vocal music can support young people in challenging circumstances to develop strong relationships and positive communities. The project includes two vocal-based community groups in Ipswich and Lowestoft which draw young people from across the towns. As part of this work we are developing a long-term partnership with the Raedwald Trust, a group of pupil referral units, to support some of the most vulnerable young people in Ipswich. Over time we will explore together how music can be used to collaborate, to build social skills and to prevent offending behaviour with these young people from across the Raedwald Trust.

This blog shares a bit about our very first steps to develop this work, having brought together a team of 6 hugely talented artists for the first time in January to work on the project.

The project began with a ‘creative residency’ at Snape. This offered the team a chance to get to know each other, set the context for the project and gave time and space for the artists to creatively bond. The team includes a singer-songwriter, a poet, a producer, musical theatre performer and dancer, instrumentalist and afrobeat artist. Amongst the team are members that have experience working in Youth Justice settings and PRUs and lived experience of criminal justice settings. It is hoped that team members will be able to use their creative voices to share their experiences with at risk young people.

We started the week with some training delivered by Andy Watson from Geese Theatre. He explored some of the challenges that young people in our PRUs might face and different coping mechanisms and behaviours for these. Andy also offered us loads of tips and ideas for developing activity with these young people, particularly how to explore experiences through fictional characters. The day was hugely inspiring and thought-provoking for artists and project managers. On Day 2, we visited two PRUs to meet the staff and understand more about the settings and their students. Each PRU in the Raedwald Trust is unique and we will spend time working with the staff to develop a project that is bespoke to each individual setting.

Throughout the rest of the week time was blocked out for the artists to ‘create’ together. We felt it hugely important for the team to understand each other’s creative voices to enable them to work both together and in isolation with young people. One artist wrote ‘I felt refreshed and respected creatively. We have bonded as a team and are on the same page for when we begin to deliver our work’. The team produced a collaborative performance which they shared at the end of the week.

The artists will be returning to Snape in March for a second residency, this time delivering 2 full days in 2 PRUs that will enable them to test ideas with young people in these settings before beginning more sustained delivery in April.