From 2016 to 2021 we worked on the HOLD project with pioneering social enterprise arts group Effervescent using the Sex & History methodology to bring about lasting positive change through youth-curated professional performance.
We worked with five small groups of young people with experiences of severe childhood trauma, including domestic violence, substance abuse and sexual exploitation. At the end of the process each group devised and curated a professional and ambitious exhibition, installation or performance at Radiant Gallery, Plymouth for periods of two to four months (Poison, Swarm, Hold and Enduring Lies).
Data collected six months after the end of the project showed significant increases in all attainment, well-being and behavioural measures for the young people involved, while the resulting exhibitions also had an impact on those who work with at-risk young people.
Representatives from the NSPCC recommended that the ‘Poison’ exhibition (2017) be incorporated into the charity’s programme for continuing professional development, with a youth worker commenting:
‘This will help and further my understanding of hidden harm. I work with children who suffer from developmental trauma in schools. I think you could achieve a shift in educational understanding if you presented this in schools. It would beat the PowerPoint presentations I deliver on the subject.’