Introduction

Cuts Both Ways is a four-day project focussing on engaging with young people who have come to the attention of the authorities - i.e. Police, Challenge and Support (YOTs) and Safety Partnerships -through acts of anti-social behaviour.

 

Objectives

To engage with the young people and to encourage them into a creative group project.

 

To explore their emotional, psychological sense of meaning and purpose in their lives through a practical creative engagement with tools and materials in outdoor settings.

 

To stage the project in two different surroundings; one that is familiar to the young people and one within remote woodland.

 

Practical Creative Process

Carving Community team leader James Bond has been an artist for 35 years and has developed the process in Cuts Both Ways by drawing on his own creative practise and experience. 20 of those years have included working with young people in various capacities. He has learned that creative practical work can channel potentially destructive elements into a positive creative experience. The end result is that the young people will have each created a sculptural object that becomes a symbolic reminder for them of what they have been through and a touchstone if they find themselves in difficult circumstances in the future.

 

The work provides an opportunity for young people to explore their emotions creatively and provides a psychological platform for them to act out and learn the ability to create an awareness of internal dialogues and the ability to reflect on their actions and outcomes.

 

These abilities are individually experienced through their engagement with the tools and materials as part of a shared group experience. Our aims are to reassure a young person through their own practical experience that with creative vision one can engage imaginatively with one's situation and circumstance.

Our sculpted bench projects allow young people to work together in a more detailed and constructive environment, learning to engage in concentrated, sustained work as part of a team.

 

The work has a lasting effect on them because they are witnessed in their positive actions by the local community, which enables both the young people and the adult community to question and re-evaluate preconceptions of each other.

 

Alongside the practical sculpting of the bench is an opportunity to creatively discuss and explore the concepts of death, loss and the jurisdictional bench within the context of restorative justice, encouraging the making to have a symbolic gravitas and personal significance to both the young people and the wider community.

 

We have found that our most effective personal development work to date for the young people has taken place outside their everyday living environments, especially working in woodland settings.

 

This kind of approach has been established as one of the most effective learning programmes for young people by the government body LOtC - Learning Outside The Classroom - in the Ofsted report of 2008.

 

The Gauntlet Of Change is a modern interpretation of the rites of passage experience that has been a part of human cultures for centuries, in which young people's transition from youth to maturity is symbolically enacted with support from elders.

 

We provide a four day creative experience aimed at teenagers that encourages them to make the changes needed to move into maturity and find their own sustainable meaning and purpose in the world, engendering inner strength and self reliance that can be called on in future times of trouble.

 

The Gauntlet takes place in a deep cut natural valley, where the teenagers work creatively using axes, knives, fire and water.

’Bringing Out the Best’ - Youth Ambassadors

 

Once we have established good working relationships with young men, they can become ambassadors for the work. There is a transformation in their status within their local peer group due to the work they have undertaken with us. Because of this newly found status, we now have other young people living locally wishing to participate on our projects. This will be a positive reflection on the young people we have been working with, who have in the past been stigmatised as the ‘naughty ones’. We can work with them to realign them within their peer groups as positive role models.

 

Parent/Guardian support, mentoring and volunteer support


For our work to be effected with the young people we know it is imperative we maintain our relationships with the parents, maintaining a dialogue with them about the intentions of the work with their child. We have regular meetings to talk through our approach and working procedures, listen to their concerns, work tochallenge some of their negative attitudes and support them in supporting their children.

 

Home environments

 

Part of our work involves the incorporation of the sculptures created by the young people into their parents' gardens. We also involve gardeners and craftsmen who can educate and instruct the young people about growing palnts and practical jobs such as fencing.

 

We have established good working relationships with the parents of the young people we have worked with in Exeter.

 

Forming Relationships with volunteer mentoring support networks

 

Learning a skill
To support the above work we endeavour to align each young person with a local volunteer mentor. This will change their social relationships within their local settings and provide guidance and support in their interests from someone older with positive experience and skills to share.

 

Local Schools
We establish meetings with the young peoples' local schools to enable them to give talks and presentations from their own authority gained in the work with us. These experiences will encourage the young person to speak out, gain confidence and witness the effect of being viewed as someone with authority.