Awards Plus

Supporting Young People to Achieve

Opportunities which celebrate Edinburgh’s rich arts community are an important facet of Awards Plus mentoring work with young people experiencing mental health difficulties. They can tap into creativity that might be tucked away, or bring new outlets for imagination and expression. As part of a bigger picture of community engagement they can help build confidence and independence, whilst broadening horizons for young people.  

While much of our mentoring focus supports youth awards progress on a 1:1 basis, facilitating relaxed social meet-ups between participants in stimulating settings has a valuable role to play. We’re increasingly finding value in arts-based partnerships, like the ones below. 

Edinburgh Fringe Engagement 

A number of young people receiving 1:1 mentoring support were invited to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August, to socialize with other participants and to catch a show which aligns with their interests. Most had never seen a Fringe show before; some actively avoid the busyness of the festival.  

A key aim of the Fringe Society is to break down any barriers that might prevent groups and individuals coming to the Fringe, in particular those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience the festival: “We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the thrill of live performance”.  

All had a great time! 2 young people with a keen interest in history, currently pursuing a Heritage Hero Award alongside their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, saw ‘epic tour-de-force’ one-man show In Loyal Company. It tells the extraordinary true story of missing WWII soldier Arthur Robinson, written and performed by his great-nephew David William Bryan. Both remarked on Bryan’s impressive stage presence, carrying the story and playing all the characters in an emotive and personal performance. One young person said they were “really glad [they] got a chance to see it” and “will have to go and see more shows during the Fringe!”  

3 more young people, along with staff Heather and Rob, saw Aloft Presents Sanctuary at the Circus Hub – a ‘punk rock circus cabaret’. It was a spectacular show in an atmospheric Spiegeltent setting that was “amazing” and “so cool to see”. “I haven’t been to the Fringe since I was a youngster, and I’ve definitely never been to a venue like this”, said one. Seeing the show made their day “really fun”, and they too plan to see more Fringe shows in the future. We look forward to bringing the Fringe to more young people in 2024. 

Thanks to Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society’s Community Ticketing Initiative and City of Edinburgh Council. 

Jupiter Artland 

Jupiter Artland is an award-winning contemporary sculpture garden located just outside Edinburgh. Founded in 2009 it has grown into one of Scotland’s most significant arts organisations, with an international reputation for innovation and creativity. Its educational vision – ‘to create a place that through art that would have a real transformative effect on the viewer, to spark something in an individual that might be life changing’ – and its 100+ acres of woodland, meadow and unique site-specific sculptures from emerging and established artists make it an ideal place for mentoring activity. 

Taking advantage of Jupiter Artland’s Learning Foundation offer of free visits (its ambition is to engage every child and young person in Scotland), two participants in the Awards Plus 1:1 Mentoring programme joined staff for a self-guided exploration in June. As part of a Proxy Walks initiative – sharing excursions with someone who is walking-limited – the following summaries were offered: 

Nature and perspectives   
found and recalled all around Jupiter Artland  
An excursion shared 

I noticed art in the trees – pine cones that looked like a bee, bark that looked like eyelashes…  
The place put me in that mood to see things differently.   
It makes you think about the art. I still remember things from 10 years ago, like the poster effect on Jim Lambie’s “A Forest”.  

We walked from the car park to the first art piece, a bottomless pit, encaged and tantalising.  
We slowly ambled through the forest which is home to all these art pieces. The paths are well worn. 
Everyone enjoyed the spider’s web, it was placed there to give perspective. 

Daundering, pondering and discussing took double the anticipated time, such was the richness and stimulation of the nature setting and artworks. A waiting parent, far from frustrated at the delay, enthused at the engagement: “It’s wonderful to see this level of interaction with the place and with other people!”

Thanks to Matt and Jupiter Artland colleagues. 

Tansy Lee Moir – Permission to Draw 

Tansy Lee Moir’s online Permission to Draw course encourages participants to “reconnect with an enquiring view of the world” and learn to draw “what you see in your own way.” Aimed at sketching beginners and session returners, it’s an ideal offering to complement mentoring sessions.  

S, working towards their John Muir Award with a focus on perspectives in nature, has valued this sensitive and accessible way of exploring creative curiosity. With attendance funded by Awards Plus/Young Start, sessions have added insight and skills to an investigation of Midlothian’s ancient woodland and the folklore which surrounds its flora and fauna. 

Tansy Lee Moir is an Edinburgh-based artist who draws inspiration from woodlands and the “forms and stories of old trees”, spanning Edinburgh and the Lothians and further afield.  

Photo Credit: Anna Pultar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *