Young people are an audience that has traditionally been neglected by the planning system and in the development of places in general. In the focus areas of our project, generally areas of high unemployment and poverty, traditional cultural/heritage issues in particular have often seen as at best irrelevant and at worst dismissive and detrimental to the needs and wishes of local communities and their own culture/heritage.
Project Duration: 1st March 2014—30th April 2015
‘Place, Work, Folk’ has widened the idea of what constitutes heritage and shown that only by engaging with and preserving valuable local heritage will this be retained and understood by local communities. ‘Place, Work, Folk’ has emphasised to young people that only by being active citizens and engaging with decision-making processes will they have any chance of contributing to how their area develops in the future. To discover the heritage and stories from the focus areas and to inspire young people to be actively participating in their communities, older members of the community were needed to meet with the young people to share their experiences and convey this message.
What we did
The 13 month project explored and shared the experience of older people who have been active in their communities with the next generation. Through this, the young people were inspired to become ‘active citizens’ working for a sustainable community and engaging with the cultural heritage of their region. The older participants had an opportunity to share their experience and inform and inspire a new generation while feeling acknowledged and valued for their contributions to the local community. The PAS project workshops, as well as exploring local heritage issues, equipped the young people with a new, broader understanding of planning and how they can engage with shaping their place and community. Through PAS workshops, young people learned skills that enabled them to prepare for, carry out, record and share the oral history stories of an older generation.
All of the four focus areas had their own individual local focus:
- Fife explored how mining, and the decline of mining had shaped Fife
- West Lothian explored the work of the Bathgate Historic Conservation Society and the broader issues of heritage in West Lothian
- Renfrewshire focused on the decline of the motor industry and its effect on place in relation to Linwood but also recent community efforts to improve the Linwood area
- Glasgow considered the legacy effect of national and international events, particularly in the East End where the 2014 Commonwealth Games were held.
Sessions were facilitated by the project co-ordinator and a number of PAS volunteers who volunteered to be involved in the delivery of class sessions. There were a series of workshops exploring some of the forces that have helped shape the four council areas. In addition students took part in workshops, which included mapping exercises, presentations from local planners, sites visits, group work and experimenting with digital sound recording equipment and tablets, in preparation for interviewing the older folk.
School sessions were conducted in a diverse range of secondary school classes, including:
- an English class in Fife, where they were also looking to contribute to the new cross-curriculum Scottish Studies certificate (approx. 20 students)
- a Geography class in West Lothian (approx. 12 students); a whole year group in Renfrewshire (approx. 80 students) before narrowing in on a personal development class (approx. 12 students)
- a citizens development group in Glasgow (approx. 10 students).
The students were S2-3, (with the exception of Glasgow, where the group was S6) and the schools were contacted directly to see if they were interested in taking part in the project.
The older participants were in their 70s/ 80s and were recruited through contacting local community bodies/ groups and using key contacts to find suitable interviewees. Around 3-5 participants in each area took part in the interviews.
Benefits for the Community
Confidence has been created amongst members of the community with young people feeling more able to speak up about things that matter to them and how they would like to see their place develop in the future. With a new generation of potential active citizens and through promoting participation in local decisions that are made, the community will have increased support and help from the people who live there. Subsequently it is hoped the town centres will benefit from increased social capital and increased life chances for people in these areas.
Benefits for the Younger People
The young people were able to learn and utilise digital recording skills while learning about the heritage of their area from the stories told by older participants and through workshops run by PAS volunteers. They learnt about planning and placemaking and ways in which they can engage and get involved in their community. The young people were able to learn that people of all ages can come together to contribute ideas and learn about cultural heritage and placemaking.
Benefits for the Older People
The oral history exercise gave the older participants an opportunity to share their experiences with a younger generation. They have had their stories valued by the younger people and had their intangible stories turned into tangible elements of the historic and cultural environment through video and sound recordings. The older people had the opportunity to interact and engage with young people and to contribute to intergenerational working.
Heritage Lottery Funding
An external assessor was brought on to the project to provide feedback and ensure we met our aims and objectives.
As well as gaining new skills for life- long learning, the young people’s perceptions regarding their local areas changed. Often negative views about their place changed to ones of understanding and positivity about the potential for future development of these areas and the knowledge that they can participate in decisions made for their town. In this way the knowledge passed down from the older folk who had already experienced change in the area created positive change. Students also felt closer to their community as a result of reaching out and talking with the older individuals and finding out about how their area has changed over the years.
What could have been done differently in the future?
With extra time and resources, we would like to have involved the young and old people in the production and presentation of the exhibition material as part of the overall project process.
It would be beneficial if the schools and older participants could have more time set aside to interact and get to know each other so they could delve deeper into topics of community, placemaking and heritage and decisions that affect change in their local areas.
Scottish NPF Objectives
This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).
SMARTER – Expanding opportunities to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.
These NPF objectives could also apply:
WEALTHIER & FAIRER – will support activities that address inequalities and enhance skills, employability and job opportunities. It builds on the characteristics of solidarity, cohesion and sustainability to ensure that all of Scotland has an opportunity to flourish
HEALTHIER – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.
Scottish NPF Outcomes
Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.
We are better educated, more skilled and more successful, renowned for our research and innovation.
We realise our full economic potential with more and better employment opportunities for our people.
We have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society.
We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.