The Vital North Partnership works with Newcastle University students across the three University faculties and at different stages of academic study. Through formal teaching activities, jointly organised events, placements and internships, and collaborative PhDs, I find students are really inspiring and enthusiastic partners to work with!
In July 2019, I went to the Newcastle University Professional Services Conference and the Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference to present a poster about Newcastle University and Seven Stories’ work on teaching and learning in partnership in 2018/19. Here’s the poster that I presented:
It was great to be able to share and talk about lots of different activities at these conferences. I included our Sense Explorers workshops in summer 2019, the music events that students have organised and supported, as well as the sea creatures that the STEM outreach team brought to visit Seven Stories back in September. It was also really interesting to look at the subjects that the Vital North Partnership covers, which shows the breadth of disciplinary areas we engage with.
The poster also featured Dr Michael Richardson’s third year module, ‘Geographies of Gender and Generation’, where students worked with Seven Stories to plan and deliver storytelling workshops with two local schools. And I even had space to mention some of our placements and projects!
I really enjoyed both events, which gave me an opportunity to talk to colleagues across Newcastle University as well as from other higher education institutions around the UK. They were both inspiring days and I made some interesting connections for the future.
Air pollution has a particularly damaging effect on children. They’re still growing and breathe faster than adults do. They also live closer to the ground, where the most polluting gases from vehicles accumulate. Pollution from traffic has been linked to problems with brain development, stunted growth, respiratory conditions, cancers and 300,000 child deaths worldwide.
Children themselves are far from oblivious to all this. The school climate strikes show that young people are forcing air pollution and the climate crisis to the top of the political agenda. The strikes tell us that children demand a platform to challenge pollution in their environment. Unable to voice their concerns in school, they are forced to take radical action. What if instead there was a way to work with children in tackling air pollution and climate change?
Through my research, I look for ways that we can give children the tools, the skills and the confidence to affect change in the cities they live in. With the help of teachers and my colleagues in Open Lab, we’ve come up with Sense Explorers, a toolkit of activities and resources to involve young people in transforming places and the environment.
And this summer, I’ll be delivering four free Sense Explorers workshops with Seven Stories! As part of each workshop, we’ll be exploring spaces around the Ouseburn. Using some digital tools we’ll be collecting data about air pollution, and we’ll also be asking young people to think about what their own five senses are telling them. Can they see or hear what may be causing pollution?
Then looking at this data, we’ll be asking our Sense Explorers to think about what they would do to make the Ouseburn better. I can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with!
Here’s a video about our Sense Explorers workshops at Seven Stories:
Sessions like Sense Explorers help children to learn about the future, what it holds for them, and how they can make it better. We should be showing them what they can – and should – do to make their cities less polluted places.
Urban planners and politicians are often hesitant to work with children, but they shouldn’t be – we need to embrace their creativity and passion to take radical action on air pollution and climate change. More now than ever, we need the original ideas that only children can bring.
Thanks Sean, and to The Conversation for allowing us to republish this content. The four Sense Explorers workshops are now fully booked. We are considering adding some extra sessions so do book on our waiting list (available on the event booking page) and we will let you know if spaces become available.
How can children’s literature collections contribute to supporting children’s health? Is there a role that Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books can play in health settings? How can sharing stories enhance children and young people’s mental wellbeing? In this blog post, find out about how Newcastle University and Seven Stories are starting to explore these questions through the Vital North Partnership’s work…
“What happens in pregnancy and early childhood impacts on physical and emotional health all the way through to adulthood… the earliest experiences, starting in the womb, shape a baby’s brain development.”
The first 1001 days of a child’s life are critical. A period of rapid growth, babies’ brains are shaped by their early experiences and interactions they have with the grownups who care for them. Healthy development, including language development, from conception to age two “is linked to improved mental and physical health, reductions in risk and antisocial behaviour and achievement at school and beyond.”(The 1001 Critical Days).
Seven Stories deliver award-winning learning and family reading programmes, which champion reading for pleasure and support literacy development. Seven Stories also have expertise working with children with additional learning and sensory needs, and delivering activities in hospice and other health settings. Newcastle University’s internationally recognised Faculty of Medical Sciences tackles challenges in health and healthcare, including ageing, cancer, cell biology, genetics, drug development, medicine in society and neuroscience. Through the Vital North Partnership, we aim to realise a range of social, educational and cultural benefits – and exploring public health is becoming an increasing area of focus for our work together.
We’re starting to explore how we can collaborate with public health providers and enhance public understanding of health and wellbeing, and we’re already planning some interesting activity. Here’s what I can share so far about our 2019 plans…
What makes us, us?
On Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd March 2019, staff and students from Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience and School of Psychology delivered a weekend of activity, ‘What Makes Us, Us?’, at Seven Stories. Led by Dr Ann Fitchett and Dr Billie Moffat-Knox, children and families visiting Seven Stories engaged with Newcastle University students to explore what it means to be human – what we have in common, and what makes us unique. Through different activity stations, families learnt about brain science, why acts of kindness make us happy and how we see colours.
Henry Marsh on ‘brain surgery and other stories’
Thinking about how children’s books can engage with health narratives and medical research, we’re looking forward to this year’s Fickling Lecture on Developments in Children’s Literature with Henry Marsh, neurosurgeon and author. Marsh pioneered techniques in operating on the brain under local anaesthetic and has written two books about his experience as a neurosurgeon.
Henry Marsh will be discussing how doctors, witnesses and participants in the stories of their patients’ lives, are beginning to tell children’s stories about their practice. He will explain what he thinks makes a good medical story for younger readers.
Enhancing young people’s resilience with Readers in Residence
I’m also very pleased to say that the Vital North Partnership has secured funding from Newcastle University’s Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Impact Fund to support a new project. This will bring Seven Stories’ Creative Learning and Engagement team and the Children’s Literature Unit together to explore how children’s literature can be used to support young people’s wellbeing.
I am excited about the potential impact of this new focus for our work together – and I believe that through the Vital North Partnership, Seven Stories and Newcastle University can enhance and promote public health, and particularly children’s health, in the North East and beyond.
When asked by our lecturer what we wanted to do for our Music Enterprise event as part of the MUS3095 third-year module, we knew we wanted to do something educational, fun and for a good cause. We all had some prior experience of working with children in music education events through outreach projects, work experience or student placements. This became the focus for our events management project.
We began the process by visiting Percy Hedley School, a charity-funded school for children with additional needs based in Jesmond. After meeting with the headteacher and the music teacher at the school, we began to realise the unique approach they took to music education. More than anything else this visit inspired us and we realised that music really can be so much more than the notes on a page.
After this inspirational visit, we decided that we definitely wanted to do an event for children that would be interactive and participatory throughout. We wanted to have the event open for families to be able to come along, have fun and engage in music. Our next mission was to find a venue to host our event.
At the beginning of the semester, Rachel had come to Newcastle University and talked to us about the possibility of hosting an event at Seven Stories. We met with Rachel and Rose Mockford, the Events Co-ordinator at Seven Stories, at the end of November to see if they would be interested in working with us and luckily for us, they were!
We had the basic structure for our event but we still needed a theme to tie our ideas together. We were aware that there had been other musical events based upon books held at Seven Stories that were successful and so we began to discuss books that had been influential in our childhoods. ‘Elmer’ by David McKee was suggested and we quickly realised that this story was ideal for our event. Not only could we envisage how this wonderful story could be musically adapted, we also felt that the themes of finding happiness and accepting our individuality resonated with our experience of visiting Percy Hedley School.
Seven Stories informed us that this would be fitting as they are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the story with their Elmer and Friends exhibition. We spoke to our fellow students and found a group of keen, enthusiastic musicians excited about the opportunity to perform together. The Elmer’s Colourful Concert band consists of Rebecca Roberts (singer), Joe Issa (pianist), Glen Bruinewoud (trumpeter) and Alex Utting (trombonist) but be assured they won’t be the only people making noise on the day!
As we’re putting the final touches on our event, we would like to welcome you to join us for Elmer’s Colourful Concert on Sunday 17th March, 2:00-2:45pm at Seven Stories, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE1 2PQ. It’s a 45 minute event aimed at children aged 7 and under and their families. Tickets are £5 per person (including children and adults) and you can book online via the Seven Stories website!
Thanks Christie, Sarah, Kate and Loren! I’m really looking forward to your Colourful Concert – where there’ll be a very special visit from a certain rainbow elephant…
How can children’s literature archives help us to understand what it’s like to be torn from your home as a refugee?
For her PhD project ‘The Other Side of Truth: agency, representation and belonging in Beverley Naidoo’s refugee fiction’, Helen King explores the role of children’s books and archives in shaping how we think about the refugee experience, and empowering children to engage creatively and politically with literature.
Beverley Naidoo (pictured above by Linda Brownlee) donated her archive to Seven Stories in 2016. The Collection is an essential part of what Seven Stories do, and they hold archives from numerous authors with huge value, both for the general public and for research. Naidoo’s archive is a really important acquisition for Seven Stories, and contains research for and responses to her fiction, as well as material relating to her careers as a researcher, teacher and activist.
A South African author, Naidoo was exiled to the UK as a result of her anti-apartheid activism, and themes of displacement and the effect of totalitarianism and racism on children runs through much of her work. Her novel The Other Side of Truth won the Carnegie medal in 2000. This book tells the story of two Nigerian children who are forced to seek asylum in the UK due to their father’s critique of the military rule of General Sani Abacha in the mid 90s. Exploring themes such the loss of home, the impact of trauma and importance of the individual refugee story, this novel is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago, and forms the starting point for this research project.
I am still in the early stages of my research, and already I have found so much thought-provoking and challenging material within the Naidoo archive. With a framework of postcolonial theory that examines how colonial dynamics have and still do affect our constructions of race, nationhood and citizenship in the UK, I am using Naidoo’s fiction and her archive to explore the following questions:
What does it mean to belong as a refugee child?
How can a children’s author represent voices that are marginalised, misrepresented and silenced by popular rhetoric and the media?
What agency can children have in the face of social inequality, either as creatives or as activists, and how can children’s literature give them this?
How can Seven Stories use the Naidoo archive to develop new creative engagement with their collections?
My time is spent between Newcastle University, the Seven Stories archive in Felling and their visitor centre in Ouseburn. I will be posting here from time to time as the project develops, and as the public engagement aspects of my project take shape over the coming months.
Viewing the Naidoo archive as carrying such potential, this project will facilitate in Seven Stories finding new ways to bring the archive to the general public through exhibitions and engagement with groups from their local community who have experienced displacement themselves. Children’s literature archives are not simply slices of history, but are active sites of debate, creativity and activism through which children can be empowered to tell their own stories.
…and at the same time, Career Development Module students have been working with Seven Stories, developing skills in exhibitions, internal communications, events, and creative learning to enhance their employability.
Final year student Lucy Napier is participating in both of these modules, so I caught up with her to hear about her experience of two very different collaborations.
Hello Lucy! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hiya Rachel! My name is Lucy Napier and I am a stage 3 student, studying Business and Geography as part of my Combined Honours degree. I have interests in hanging out with friends and horse riding BUT I also like working hard to try and graduate!
This year, you’re undertaking a Career Development Module with Seven Stories – what’s that, and why did you choose to do this as part of your degree course?
The Career Development module runs in both Stage 2 and Stage 3. I chose to do it in my third year so I could have an idea as to what I am interested in terms of career choices. I chose Seven Stories for my placement as I researched into their core beliefs and what they do as a non-profit and I loved everything about them, from keeping original drafts of great children’s authors in collections at Felling to the workshops and exhibitions they give to the local children in the North East area. I chose to do this as part of my degree as it is a nice change than sitting in lecture halls and this module gives us good work experience and guidance for our future careers.
What have you been doing at Seven Stories during your Career Development Module placement so far?
My title at Seven Stories is Internal Communications Volunteer, and over my year here I am aiming to identify improvements in communications between Seven Stories’ three sites. Having researched within the business and conducted meetings with various people across the organisation I am aiming to bring together everything I have found to design and come up with an internal communications strategy.
And you’ve also been studying as part of the Geographies of Gender and Generation module. That’s been quite a different experience, I imagine?
Yes, it has been. I found the module very interesting as it was looking at life through an intergenerational and sometimes a feminist lens, it taught us how gender and generation can be created through society and how society can be affected by them. For example, we learnt about age-friendly cities and how spaces can be designed to benefit younger generations. I really enjoyed this module as it made you rethink a lot of things and that gave me another perspective on society and geography as a whole.
Tell us about the work you did with Seven Stories as part of the Geographies of Gender and Generation module.
As part of the module our assessment was based on working with children, alongside Seven Stories. We had to get into groups and deliver a storytelling to a group of children. My group looked at Elmer and the Hippos by David McKee. We then designed an activity based on teamwork as we thought that was the main theme within the book. The aim of this work was to watch how my age group act with younger children and this is known as intergenerational practice. We then had to write up a report on the work completed and how we learnt from the children and how they learned from us.
How did you find the final GEO3135 workshop with the children from Hotspur Primary School and Marine Park Primary School at the Great North Museum: Hancock?
The final workshop was good fun and very different to other work I have had to do as part of my degree. My group worked with Year 4 children from Marine Park Primary School. We found that the children felt that Elmer and the Hippos was too young for them. However, they loved our teamwork activity of being blindfolded and trying to find cones, and looking back we should have made tried to extend this element of the session.
What has it been like seeing two very different sides of Seven Stories’ work – and what have you learned?
Having worked on both sides it has given me a unique view. I have seen Seven Stories through the customer’s view through GEO3135, as we had an exciting storytelling along with an activity. These were based on the book Not Now Bernard by David McKee which was good fun as we could be children! Then through my Career Development Module, I can see how all the events are organised by Seven Stories, how much effort goes into organising a day within the Visitors Centre and how much everyone works their absolute hardest.
What impact will your work with Seven Stories have on your future studies, research and career plans?
My work within Seven Stories has made me look more into a career working within non-profits. It has impacted me so much that I am looking at going to India working with children and teaching them English for a few months after I have graduated.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I would just like to add that I love everything that Seven Stories do, I think they are a fantastic charity and I have loved working there! And if you haven’t been to visit, I really do recommend it, it’s a fantastic day out for families.
Thanks Lucy! I’ll look forward to seeing the results of your Career Development Module placement – good luck!
Hello! I’m Anna and I live in Gateshead, although I am originally from Northumberland. I came to the Museum Studies MA course with the aim of beginning a career in the museums sector, alongside developing my practice as an illustrator.
Hi, I’m Amy and I’m originally from County Durham. I moved to Newcastle 5 years ago when I got my place at Newcastle University to do my Ancient History BA. I decided to do the MA with the intention of (hopefully) being able to get a job in museum learning after. And after all there’s no better place for history than in a museum!
Tell me about the Museums Studies MA course – how are you finding studying at Newcastle?
Amy: I’m loving it! I couldn’t think of a city more suited to a Museum Studies course than Newcastle – there are so many museums and galleries on your doorstep you’re spoilt for choice. I love Newcastle and can’t imagine leaving!
Anna: I could not have asked for a better experience, in all honesty. The course at Newcastle has a great reputation and as I was keen to stay in the North East to help contribute towards the growing arts industry here, it was the perfect choice.
What attracted you to do a placement at Seven Stories?
Anna: What didn’t attract me! Having specialised in creating illustrated books during my undergraduate degree, I have had an interest in the work that goes on at Seven Stories for a while. I previously had some of my illustration work displayed in the visitor centre, which I found very exciting.
Amy: I’m a long-time fan of Seven Stories. I actually came to the opening in 2005 and met Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt; I LOVED Jacqueline Wilson’s books so Nick Sharratt drawing me my own Tracey Beaker, on the cover of my tattered book, is one of my favourite childhood memories.
So, what have you been up to on your placements?
Amy: I’ve been based with the Creative Learning and Engagement team and I’ve been able to learn a lot about Seven Stories offerings, both onsite and in schools.
I’ve shadowed EY, KS1 and KS2 workshops as well as spending a couple of days with Creative Associates learning about the Reader in Residence and Reading for Pleasure offerings.
I’ve also being analysing and interpreting data regarding the learning programmes and spotting any trends and patterns.
Anna: I have been primarily based with the Seven Stories Collections team. My main job has been to catalogue the Fritz Wegner collection, which Seven Stories acquired in 2017.
I have had the opportunity to work in the visitor centre on the de-installation of the Comics exhibition, and on the install for the new Where Your Wings Were exhibition. The tasks I was involved with included removing and packing artworks and display items, assisting in the hanging of artworks, and sourcing some images used in the displays.
How is your placement helping you to develop the skills you’ll need for a career in the museums sector?
Anna: I came to the MA course at Newcastle University with little practical experience of working in a museum environment. The placement has helped me put my theoretical knowledge from the MA course into practice. Working at Seven Stories has given me access to experts in the industry and enabled me to work directly with the collection.
Amy: I already have experience of delivering workshops and activities so doing my placement at Seven Stories meant that I could work with data, figures and reports to learn first-hand how data interpretation can be used to inform the future progression of a learning programme.
It’s something I normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do and I’ve really enjoyed doing something different!
What have you learned from your placement at Seven Stories?
Amy: I’ve learned so much but my favourite part was learning about how much stories and reading can positively impact a child’s development and ultimately improve their academic performance and confidence.
Anna: I’ve learned that a huge amount of hard work, dedication and love goes into maintaining the collections! Before beginning my placement, I was of the belief that museum roles are well defined and separate from one another. I now know that multitasking and cross-discipline work is becoming a more common way of working.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Anna: I would like to thank all of the wonderful staff I have worked with. As an illustrator, it has been an absolute delight to work with original artworks, and it has really inspired me in my own practice.
Amy: I didn’t know it was possible but my time here has made me an even bigger Seven Stories fan!
Thanks Amy and Anna! It’s been a pleasure to work with you both and good luck with the rest of your MA studies!
Children have fascinating insights into the places they live in, and Seven Stories are interested in how the families that visit them feel about their locality. Yet traditional approaches to urban planning are quite exclusive (and not massively creative) when it comes to consulting and involving children and young people. So what about new and alternative methods?
Today I’m exploring JigsAudio, a research project led by Alexander Wilson, a doctoral trainee in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics at Open Lab. Zander’s research interrogates the intersections between digital technology, design, human-computer interaction and town planning, with a focus on alternative tools and methods to participation.
From that initial conversation, Zander and his Digital Civics colleagues came up with JigsAudio. It combines drawing and colouring in jigsaw pieces, which the children and families visiting Seven Stories are familiar with, with something new: a device which allowed the children to record an audio message about their jigsaw piece. The pieces and their recordings are then combined to create a digital version of the jigsaw online.
JigsAudio’s first test was during the Big Draw in October 2016 and formed part of a range of drop in activities offered that weekend around Newcastle City Futures. Zander said, “A colourful puzzle came back with many varied visions of Newcastle and Gateshead. A five-hour barge trip along the Tyne and a colourful new bridge across the Tyne – painted in green, yellow, black, blue and purple – were just two of the ideas that emerged.”
Following that, Seven Stories also worked with Zander on a second JigsAudio activity for Summer 2017 around their Aliens Love Underpants exhibition, asking children to design and talk about alien planets and reflect on what they value about their own. For Zander: “I’m amazed at the effort the children put into their alien’s planet. It’s really interesting to see that they have such a strong sense of what is important to where they live. As well as a few aliens, we got something that’s really valuable and will hopefully lead to children getting more of a say in how places change. We’ve been underplaying their ability to understand some of the issues planning is facing and hearing their ideas has been an eye-opening exercise. It’s been a fantastic project.”
So what were Zander’s research findings? He found:
“That drawing and talking was effective at getting people to communicate complicated and elaborate visions that might not be easily communicated through a single media.”
“The initial low-tech appearance of the activity encouraged engagement with JigsAudio”. This was particularly important for Seven Stories’ youngest visitors, and they loved the tactile nature of the jigsaw itself. I noticed that the children really enjoyed adding their piece into the constellation of planets, for example!
“Participants were interested in how the JigsAudio device worked and wanted to take part in the activity.” This was backed up by Seven Stories Santander University Intern, Emma, who facilitated the Aliens Love Underpants JigsAudio activity: “You have to watch [the device] quite a lot because… it was quite an interesting thing for the kids; they were picking it up!”
For Seven Stories, using JigsAudio was an interesting way of finding out what their youngest visitors see and think about the place that they live in, and their visions of alternative spaces.
And for Zander, “I’m thinking about how we can use drawing and talking with other topics, and how we might put together a toolkit for children to make their own devices. If you’re interested in having a go with the device, or if you have your own project you’d like to use JigsAudio in, please do get in touch!”
Thanks to Zander for his help with this post! To find out more about JigsAudio, visit: http://jigsaudio.com/
There’s an interesting relationship between charities and business. Charities are organisations established to meet a charitable purpose, for the public benefit – not for profit. They are part of what’s sometimes called the ‘third sector’, falling between public services and private enterprise. And of course, charities share similar activities to private companies. They generate income. They employ people. They produce end of year accounts, marketing strategies, business plans…
The purpose of the Management Consultancy Project module is to give students experience of working with a real employer on a live issue. Module leader, Sarah Carnegie, explains: “The module is one of the final year capstone modules that students at the Business School can take. It provides an opportunity for our students to apply the skills and knowledge gained in their studies and is an example of work integrated learning. Research shows this style of learning can assist students in developing their career management skills, as well as being a challenging academic project. The management consultancy projects are key to the Business School developing links with businesses and promotes employer engagement.”
Students: Louisa Abercrombie, Thomas Crozier, William Inkster, Matthew Parnell, Emma Roberts, and Amos Syn were assigned to the project. In consultation with Seven Stories, they defined a project brief to “recommend ways for the client to improve and simplify the overall performance of memberships, in order to maximise revenue in turn improving long-term sustainability.”
After initial meetings with Seven Stories’ Chief Operating Officer, Jon Riley, and Seven Stories’ Development and Relationships team in October 2017, the students began their research. They identified Seven Stories’ market position and competitors, examined Seven Stories’ existing data and secondary data and conducted and analysed primary research including surveys and focus groups.
They then used this research to inform their conclusions and a series of recommendations for enhancing Seven Stories’ membership schemes, which they presented to Seven Stories with their final consultancy portfolio and written report in March 2018.
For Emma and the student team, “Working with Seven Stories gave us all a valuable insight into challenges businesses face and allowed us to actively seek solutions to help a real situation. Every one of us developed skills, contributed to the research and gained real work experience. When we faced challenges, we worked together as a team to overcome these. We all thoroughly enjoyed forming innovative and creative solutions together with Seven Stories to enhance their fantastic business.”
Sarah Carnegie added that: “Academic staff agree the initial scope of the work that the student group may engage with, but it is down to the group to actually deliver. Each student group has weekly contact, during term time, with a member of academic staff as it is important to build momentum and it’s amazing to see how engrossed the students become in their projects and how hard they work for their clients.”
And Seven Stories were impressed with the professional way that the students approached the project. Jon said: “From the very first meeting with Emma, Tom, Will, Louisa, Matt, and Amos, it was obvious that they were really engaged with the consultancy project. They defined their own brief and worked with a number of colleagues in our team to gain a thorough understanding of our work. The conclusions the students came up with were interesting and innovative – we’re actively considering implementing some of their recommendations over the next year.”
What’s next? We’re discussing a second management consultancy opportunity with Seven Stories for the 2018/19 BUS3053 cohort. We’re also talking about collaborating as part of Newcastle University Business School’s MBA internship pilot later in 2018. Watch this space!
On 8th March 2018, Seven Stories hosted a special event, Little Folk, organised by students Imogen Bose-Ward, Megan Savage, Ada Francis, Becca Twist and Frankie Hay from Newcastle University’s Music BA Honours course.
Having worked with this cohort to deliver a Musical Creepy Crawlies event at Seven Stories in March 2017, Seven Stories were happy to offer this year’s students the same opportunity – to deliver an event as part of their public events programme. In October 2017, I went to one this year’s initial Music Enterprise lectures to meet the students and talk to them about Seven Stories.
Straight after the lecture, Imogen emailed me to let me know that her group wanted to work with us: ‘We are really interested to collaborate with Seven Stories to create an event based around music, dance and storytelling from around Newcastle.’
And – that’s exactly what they did! Over the months leading up to March, with support from Jane and the Seven Stories team, the students developed an interactive event, Little Folk, exploring folk songs and stories from the North East. They approached folk performers Alistair Anderson,Amber Jayne Cox and Heather Ferrier to take part, developed the programme and accompanying handouts, and created some beautiful marketing materials:
And all their hard work led to a sold-out event on 8th March at Seven Stories. The families who came to Little Folk sang the Blaydon Races with Amber, heard Alastair tell the story of the Lambton Worm and Heather taught us how to clog dance. And alongside that we heard the Northumbrian pipes, waved ribbons and played with sensory props, and even tried out the concertina! Here’s a taster of the event in the Little Folk promotional video that the students created:
For Imogen and the student organising team, “We were delighted to see such a fantastic turn out and we were really pleased with the event itself and some of the feedback we received from the audience. Hosting an event in collaboration with Seven Stories has been a really fascinating process, and it has been incredibly rewarding seeing how our input into such a brilliant charity has created an event that will hopefully leave an impression on the young audience. Seven Stories have a fantastic loyal audience base, which helped us sell out our debut event. We are now interested in developing what was initially supposed to be a one-time event for a university module into something larger, perhaps by looking into how this event could be held in other areas of the country where there are musical and cultural traditions.”
From Jane’s perspective as their module leader, “The students created an excellent event, with a strong brand and a compelling storyline for their marketing, which has enabled them to attract and engage their audience. They have developed a workshop format which could provide the basis for a future creative enterprise. The Music Enterprise module is intended to help students prepare for their future careers in the creative sector, which may be freelance or self-managed. The Little Folk team have devised, organised and presented a highly successful event, working in an effective partnership with Seven Stories, which will have enhanced their skills and confidence, personal resilience and professional development, and has added to their CVs.”
And Seven Stories loved it! Rose Mockford, Events Co-ordinator, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with this group of students who demonstrated a high degree of professionalism in all aspects of their event planning. Our young visitors and their families really engaged with the varied event programme which the students had devised and our unique Attic space was used effectively create a relaxed family event.”
“Little Folk was particularly special as it offered the opportunity for young people to creatively collaborate with Seven Stories to share local musical traditions and engage and build our audiences. Since this event we have hosted another musical event from Opera North and many visitors booked for this having first attended Little Folk – a true testament to the success of the project!”
Thanks to the students for all their hard work in delivering such a successful event! And it seems appropriate to end with a quote from The Blaydon Races: “Thor wes lots o’ lads and lasses there, all with smiling faces…”