At Project MotorHouse, we believe it takes a range of abilities and capabilities to build a strong community. We are based in Ramsgate and partner with local schools, other local groups, businesses and creative professionals to produce youth projects which are cultural in the broadest sense of the word and fun. The projects are designed to help adolescents explore their potential by widening their horizons, broadening their skill base, demystifying success, fostering their creativity and helping them engage with their local community; all of which develops their cultural capital and ultimately improves employability.
Our projects have the components identified by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as producing good outcomes for young people:
- small groups with individual attention;
- the negotiation of programme content with participants rather than its imposition;
- flexibility of content to meet changing needs;
- staff who are skilled at communicating and negotiating rather than just ‘instructing’; and
- structured systems for assessing and rewarding achievement.
Ramsgate is in Thanet, a district in Kent which is in the top 10% of deprived areas in England. Our projects are designed to mitigate the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) by giving young people a sense of achievement and making them feel valued by their community. Our Community Liaison Officer Jo Mapp was in the first cohort to be trained as Kent County Council ACE Ambassadors. We are members of UK Youth, Locality and Kent’s Youth Art Network. We are also Colyer Fergusson hardship grant referral partners.
Our projects usually start with digital cameras. With expert instruction, youths can quickly produce good results. This establishes a link between effort and reward which is often missing in young lives and is so necessary for confidence, resilience and motivation. We then attach other elements to the spine of a project eg. exhibitions, hoardings for a derelict site, postcards. Projects have a public face and each participant gets a written thank you from us and from community leaders so that participants know their work is valued. Members of our Youth Steering Group are past participants in our projects and double as peer mentors.
Members of our Youth Steering Committee also serve as peer mentors. We deliver Arts and UK Youth Achievement Awards. Skills mentors are recruited for their expertise as needed and include photographers, videographers, graphic designers, music producers, stone masons, carpenters, archaeologists and conservation specialists. The quality of the project outputs is enormously important to youth participants. While volunteering is to be encouraged, PMH believes that quality is best ensured by professionals paid industry rates to deliver skills training.
Project MotorHouse delivers Arts Awards and/or UK Youth Achievement Awards on its projects.
“I am a great believer in an asset-based approach, where we focus on the strengths already inherent within the community. That is, we focus on what skills, knowledge and resources that we do have and can share rather than focusing on the things we don’t have. Your projects appear to be doing exactly that. Working with the community in this way is important. A wonderful ambition. Well done.” Tristi Brownett, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Canterbury Christ Church University re PMH