The Get a Life Project was primarily a response to the findings of Hartlepool’s Joint Investment Plan.This is a document which was produced as a result of consultation between Hartlepool Social Services and the people with learning difficulties who use the services provided by this department.
The project incorporated drama, music, creative writing, visual art and photography to illustrate what people in the groups felt about the areas of their lives which were the subject of the JIP. These include Employment, Lifelong Learning, Accommodation, Transport and Leisure, amongst others.
Artists were appointed to run a series of workshops in each art form. They instigated discussions of the issues amongst group members about the way their lives are now and how they would like things to change. There is an obligation on Social Services departments to make the results of the consultation process accessible to other people who use the services. Therefore, pictorial and dramatic representation was used to illustrate the points.
The discussions unearthed feelings and issues which were used in powerful ways to get the message across.
A cabaret-style performance which included sketches, songs, poetry, projected photographs and text and an exhibition of the visual artwork and photography, was held in Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre on 23rd October. This was extremely well received and letters of thanks were received from Hartlepool Social Services Department. The visual art, photography and poetry are to be published in a booklet and a video of the performance is also to be made available.
Over 40 people took part in the various strands of the project. Possibilities for the future included using the arts as part of the consultation process rather than as a tool to interpret the results.