Wellington Square’s a good place to stART!

A pioneering arts project has set up shop in the former “Officer’s Club” premises in Wellington Square, Stockton on Tees for eight weeks.

Stockton stART

The stART project is a programme of creative activity for disaffected and disengaged young people, designed, managed and delivered by Tees Valley Arts in partnership with Stockton Integrated Youth Support Service. Nine young people from Stockton will be working with artist Nicola Parkin and Youth Worker John Greenan learning a variety of new skills.

Young people on the stART project will also achieve their Bronze Arts Award; the Award is for anyone aged between 11 and 25, who is interested in exploring new creative experiences. It’s a national qualification, managed by Trinity College London in association with Arts Council England and is recognised by employers and colleges as proof of skills and commitment.

The stART project began in Middlesbrough in January 2009 and to date has worked with 70 young people, classified as NEET, amongst whom have been young parents, young people in care, young offenders, young people with substance abuse issues, young people on the autistic spectrum, young people with low levels of literacy, young people with learning difficulties, young people newly arrived in this country and young people with anxiety issues such as agoraphobia and obsessive/ compulsive disorders.

The aim of stART has been to ‘capture’ those young people and to help them re-engage with their own lives, discover some unsuspected and undeveloped talents, learn some interpersonal and practical skills, and prepare for some positive next steps in life. The intervention has allowed agencies working with those young people to re-establish relationships with them, and then to support them in making progressions to college or other training, where previously the young people have been chaotic or uninterested.

Project Manager: Tim Coyte commented

“It is great that stART is now blossoming in Stockton and Wellington Square is a great space to work in for the participants and offers them a fantastic “shop window” to exhibit their work publicly.”

Carl Scott, 19, is one of the people on the course, and said:

“I like stART because it’s good fun and it gives you confidence to go for interviews. I really want to go into retail and the job centre can only help you so much, so I’ve been volunteering at the Butterwicke Hospice shop. This project is in an empty shop in Wellington Square and I get to do displays; this experience will help me get work in retail.”

Hazel Woodhouse, 17, said:

“I’m enjoying what we’re doing at stART, experiencing new things and working on building up a portfolio. I like crafty things and making stuff and would really like to go to Art College to study design crafts. My dream job would be to make and sell my own creations.

“By the end of stART I hope to have an interview to go to Art College and something lined up to do before the college course starts in September, like a summer course or something. I’m hoping stART will help me to achieve this and improve my confidence.”

Rob Gildersleeve is the centre manager at Wellington Square, and commented:

“This is a valuable opportunity for the youngster to gain experience and qualifications, and we are pleased to put one of our units to good use in this way. The students have brightened up the shop unit and have created a colourful window display. Our retailers and many of our shoppers have commented on how well they have done. It’s worth coming down to take a look!”