OUR PARK, 2020-2021

(Themes: vulnerable persons, neurodiversity, community creative exchange, urban green space, safe space)

 

Contents

The Wider Project
The Role of Ziggy’s Wish
OUR PARK: A Place of Love, Life & Possibilities
What the Project Meant to Those Involved
The Graphic Novel Launch

 

 

The Wider Project

The University of Salford and Community Creative Exchange project seeks to foster creative collaborations between university students and local community members, particularly as many new students come to the university every year knowing nothing about the area.

This wider project also feeds into the Salford Learning City Partnership, which brings together Salford City Council, The University of Salford, Salford CVS, The Lowry, Salford Foundation and Broughton Trust among others, and seeks to develop a different style of learning, to serve Salford citizens of all ages and from all backgrounds, using the Salford community’s knowledge and expertise to drive that development.

We need to treasure people, not measure people.

 

 

The Role of Ziggy’s Wish

As part of Salford’s community, the Loaves and Fishes organisation offers services to local people that include opportunities for learning and activities (alongside food, benefits, personal healthcare and signposting). It was through this that The University of Salford and Community Creative Exchange project developed, with students and staff from the university visiting the Loaves and Fishes centre to begin a conversation around creative writing.

This is turn encouraged a group to come together and work collectively, in order to give voice to their own experiences. Coming from this was the group’s decision to create their own graphic novel of those experiences, and The University of Salford commissioned Ziggy’s Wish to help with that process.

The group had decided to set their story in Salford’s historic Peel Park – one of the first public parks to be opened in England. There was no shortage of ideas from the group, and our role was to help harness and shape those ideas into a tangible structure that could translate into a physical book, to be completed and printed by the end of 2021.

 

 

OUR PARK: A Place of Love, Life & Possibilities

To support the group’s creation of their graphic novel, we delivered a series of facilitated online and in-person meetings over nine months, with group members completing supporting ‘homework’ in between.

Well aware of our Duty of Care to the diverse groups we work with, we additionally provided one-to-one support for members throughout, whenever they wished to discuss any of the processes we were undertaking with them, which asked them to look inwards in order to express themselves outwardly.

 

 

These series of meetings comprised six distinct stages:

  • Stage 1 allowed us to identify natural strengths within the group individuals, in terms of who could contribute what to the book’s creation; and also the fears holding people back. Exploring and sharing the group members’ strengths and fears ultimately allowed everyone in the group to contribute equally.
  • Stage 2 focused on character development, exploring how individual voice can be channelled through characters in a way that holds onto the personal whilst making the story welcoming for all. Various ‘live’ storytelling techniques were employed to encourage the group to vocalise dialogue even when they felt unsure.
  • Stage 3 focused on the structure of the graphic novel, providing reassurance in terms of framework alongside tangible goals and a timeline.

 

 

  • Stage 4 involved the management of artwork internally, as we worked with group members on content creation; with Stage 5 involving the management of artwork content being created externally, by further local artists who were brought into the project.
  • Stage 6 comprised final editing, image curation and post production to ensure the graphic novel was print ready.

Every one of these stages was group-informed, conferring ownership of the process to the group, and engendering immense pride in the finished book.

 

 

 

What the Project Meant to Those Involved

 

The Graphic Novel Launch

OUR PARK: A Place of Love, Life & Possibilities is being launched across two events in late 2021.

  • ‘We Love Peel Park: Graphic Novel launch’ at The Economic and Social Research Council’s national Festival of Social Science (online)
  • A celebratory event for participants and the wider community at Loaves and Fishes in Salford (an in-person event)