Over the past year there have been a number of really sad stories in the news about people dying as a result of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. The tragedy of all of these incidents is that they are so easily preventable through a knowledge of the possible dangers and by getting appliances checked by a qualified and registered engineer.
In a bid to educate people on the dangers of Carbon Monoxide, the Gas Safety Trust funded Moseley Community Development Trust to work with local pupils at Park Hill Primary School to help spread the message. Phil Beardmore, an expert on home energy issues (one of the many hats he wears!) developed a training session to teach adults working on the project what Carbon Monoxide is, what can make it hazardous, the signs of poisoning and how it can be prevented.
This was a unique project as it was pupils themselves that took the lead on creating an advertising campaign. I worked alongside the wonderfully talented and creative Sandra Taylor (formerly of the rather marvellous Playtrain organisation) to help the group develop their ideas, find creative ways of expressing what was quite a complex subject (especially for Key Stage 2 pupils!), and then to realise their vision through drama, narration, film and animation.
The result is a fun, informative film, developed and created by the pupils themselves which is now being shown in homes across Moseley. The pupils learned new skills over the course of the project, but more importantly really took the message of Gas Safety on board. 1,000 DVDs have been produced to make sure that the message is spread far and wide, and the information is now available online on the Moseley CDT website.
Thanks to Sandra for all of her hard work co-ordinating the project, to Phil for his excellent training and support, to all the supportive staff at Park Hill, to Tony Thapar at Moseley CDT and to Ben Lister for his excellent work on the edit. Above all, well done to the pupils who put so much effort in and made the project such a giggle!
It’s almost a year since I last updated the blog (If you read my last post then you will have some idea why. Little Bean is now a big, crawling all over the place Big Bean who goes by the name of Adam – or Adamdamdamdam if you ask him).
I’m now working part time and I’m fortunate enough to be working on a really interesting and diverse range of projects. Some of them are a continuation of work I was doing before Maternity Leave, most of them are completely new projects I’m working on.
I’d like to say a big thank you to all of the people that I’ve worked with that have been willing to be flexible as I juggle being a new Mum with my freelance work. What I feared would be a really stressful period has been really enjoyable!
Within a matter of days I’ll be welcoming the latest member of the crew on board… ‘Little Bean’ as our as yet unborn offspring has come to be known, will be joining James and I sometime in the next couple of weeks, so I’ll be somewhat distracted from work for a bit!
My Maternity Leave is now underway (no really, it is!), and I am officially on leave until September. However, do get in touch through the usual channels with questions and job offers as I’ll gradually be returning to work, albeit on a part time basis.
I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who has wished me well and supported me throughout my pregnancy (especially those who have happily lugged film equipment round for me!). I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some new projects with a fresh perspective when I return!
This year has been a pretty shoddy year for blogging. Thankfully that’s because it’s been a fantastic year of increasingly ambitious, interesting film projects with wonderful people. This blogpost is a bit of a round-up with some thank yous thrown in!
Pool of Memories
One of the most exciting and rewarding projects has been finally getting the ‘Pool of Memories’ project underway. After months and months of plotting and planning our funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, ‘Friends of Moseley Road Baths’ were able to throw ourselves into implementing an extensive and exciting programme of oral history interviews about the swimming baths and its 104 year history. I’ve been working in schools around Balsall Heath and Moseley to bring History to life for local pupils through using our interactive Virtual Tour website and Pool of Memories archive, then guiding groups through filming their own oral history interviews with members of the public. The response has been wonderful and it’s been difficult to keep a check on my enthusiasm in order for us to actually get the projects done! Here is a taster of what we’ve been up to in the six projects completed so far!
What’s Wrong With Wolverhampton?
There was also no shortage of enthusiasm, or talent, from students at Mediacove who I worked with at the start of the year to create a documentary ‘Wolverhampton in Focus’ which investigated the claim by a Lonely Planet article that Wolverhampton was amongst the worst cities in the world! Needless to say we uncovered a huge amount of positive stuff going on. The documentary was a springboard for a live streamed debate, where the group took charge of finding panelists, chairing the discussion and filming the whole thing in the Mediacove studio. I thought it was a fantastic template for empowering and innovative media work, but don’t take my word for it… here’s the Behind the Scenes film where the group talk about how the experience has changed their lives. More information on the Mediacove blog…
Young people making films
As the cuts to youth projects began to bite I spent some time with young people at Fox Hollies Forum in Acocks Green producing a short film with them to highlight the need for good quality, safe youth provision in their neighbourhood. The group did a fantastic job of making their case and the film formed part of a wider campaign of lobbying and demonstrations that certainly puts any notion of apathetic young people to rest!
Meanwhile pupils in and around Billesley took part in a range of fun after-school clubs organised by the lovely crew over at Balsall Heath’s very own Round Midnight. I led a range of film-making workshops which saw Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils getting to grips with using camera equipment and exploring how they can create their own short films. I also joined the gang at Round Midnight to help pupils document arts activities happening at King Edward VI Girls Grammar School in Handsworth.
2011 has also been a year of promoting some important areas of the NHS, specifically services aimed at supporting children and families. The year began with a whopping 10,000 DVDs of my Health Visitor film going into production to be distributed to new parents across Birmingham. As I type there are a further 1,000 copies of a film about the referral process for children with suspected ADHD in production. A third film aimed at young people and carers outlines the health services provided through the ‘Looked After Children’s Health Team’ for children and young people in the care system in Birmingham and will go into production shortly. That project involved working with pupils at Firsbrook School in Quinton to create a short animation – loads of fun and my first animation!
A day in the woods
One of the most fun parts of my job is the opportunity to delve into other people’s worlds. I was really lucky to be able to join a group of three and four year olds in Moorcroft Woods as they explored the woodland through the use of stories, crafts and their own observations. The ‘Forest School’ supported by the Wildlife Trust and run through Rowley View Nursery School is all about getting kids out of the classroom and giving them opportunity to get muddy and let their imaginations run wild. The response from the kids was absolutely wonderful to see and it’s hoped that more schools will grasp the opportunity to get involved in similar schemes off the back of the short promotional film we produced.
Finally I made a couple of trips down to London to deliver film-making workshops to the lovely folks at Friends of the Earth. This is one of my favourite bits of work as it’s always hugely amusing to see what adults get up to when they’re given free rein to play with a camera! I’ll leave you with a short film produced in one short hour long session – it shows you what can be created in a short space of time, as well as giving you some tips for your own film-making!
Huge thanks to all of the organisations I’ve worked with over the past year and all who have assisted in bringing some great stories and projects to light! Happy film-making for 2011!
35 pupils in four schools have now been part of creating a total of eight films about the history of Moseley Road Baths in Balsall Heath, all of which will eventually be added to our online archive of the building at www.poolofmemories.co.uk.
The Heritage Lottery Fund supported project, run by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths has involved pupils in researching the history of the building, taking a tour around the Baths, learning how to make films and conduct interviews, and then finally editing their interviews together into short films to be added to our archive. Ever since I started making films in the community, back when I worked as a Receptionist at Moseley Road Baths it’s been my aim to get this lovely building celebrated more within the surrounding area. We certainly seem to be achieving that!
Pupils have really loved the tours and have asked some really great (and challenging!) questions about the building and how it was built and is maintained. On several occasions I’ve seen pupils dashing up to parents and teachers to tell them all about the things that they’ve learnt. Apologies if you’re one of those people who has been bombarded with trivia! However, we know that young people are exactly the kind of ambassadors we need to ensure future generations enjoy the building.
All of the children have picked up on the film-making really quickly. We’ve had some real giggles mucking around with the microphones and playing around in front of the camera! We soon managed to form film crews with a Director, Sound Recordist, Camera Operator and Interviewer. Many of our interviewees have commented on the professionalism of the group.
All of the questions for the interviewees have been written by the pupils, who have shown a great level of maturity in their questions. These budding young historians have really grasped the concept of oral history recording and its importance for helping people to understand the past and its relevance to us today.
The quality of the interviews has been excellent, with some really interesting stories coming out as a result of the groups asking such good questions. We’ve learnt about the diving boards and drinks for a penny in the 1950s, competitive swimming in the 1960s, school trips to the Baths in the 1970s, someone almost having a baby in the pool in the 1980s and then in stories from more recent years we’ve learnt about the technical side of rebuilding the windows, what it’s like to work there, as well as hearing about the campaign work to keep the building open.
With five more school projects budgeted for over the course of the three year project I am now looking for other local schools who may wish to participate. The project is aimed at Year 6 pupils, but can be tailored for other year groups. The finished films are added to our archive, and many will appear on our online archive, www.poolofmemories.co.uk. They will then be used as part of our exhibition work and will form the basis of an extensive drama project. If you would like your school to be involved then you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is an example of one of the films, created by Year 3 pupils at Clifton Junior School.
Do you remember the name of your local Librarian when you were a kid? The person who helped you work your way through different sections of the library, from the toddler ‘Ladybird’ books through to the Enid Blytons, the Roald Dahls, the Dick King Smiths, the Judy Blumes and the Paula Danzigers? Who helped you navigate your way through the non-fiction for your school projects? Who organised holiday activities which got you touching wild animals, writing book reviews and taking out huge piles of books in order to get a sticker at the end of the summer? I remember Gill, the librarian at High Heath Library vividly. I was in awe of someone who worked with books for a living. The library was divided into a child and adult section, and I still recall how special I felt when I crossed the threshold for the first time, turning right instead of left as I went in.
That library closed years ago and it’s always saddened me that pupils from my local primary school will never get the chance to skip down there, two by two and hear a story sat on those tiny chairs, then frantically battle with the rest of the class for the ‘best’ books to take out. That now looks to become the norm as libraries are faced with closure throughout the country. Some councils are considering closing all of their local libraries.
Closer to home where I live in Balsall Heath, the magnificent terracotta library which greets people as they enter the area is covered in scaffolding and has been for several years. Whilst it’s still functioning and providing a fantastic service, particularly for local pupils, the building needs extensive work. Meanwhile, the library up the road in Kings Heath is completely closed to the public.
A few years ago I was commissioned by a dedicated and passionate librarian, Jenny York, to produce a series of films about the work that libraries in Yardley were doing with the local community. Even back then it was important that they could produce evidence of the impact of their work to help secure funding. The result was seven short films about different projects. There is more information on them over on the ‘Libraries’ page.
One of my favourite films is the ‘Yards Ahead’ film. I think it really shows the passion that kids, teachers and librarians have for their community library. I could continue to wax lyrical about the service, but I’ll let the film speak for itself. Enjoy.
I’ve listened to the news with horror over the past few months as more and more news is emerging about local authorities and NHS Trusts slashing budgets for some really crucial and valued services. I’ve been lucky enough to go into libraries, care homes, hospitals, schools, Children’s Centres, arts projects and youth clubs across the West Midlands and see first hand the marvelous work that people are doing – often on limited resources. The idea that these valuable resources are under threat fills me with dismay.
A few weeks ago there was the news story that a mother is considering putting her daughter into full time care as local respite care services are being stopped. I saw myself how valuable respite care is to families last year when I was commissioned to produce a film for a Respite Care Centre, Edgewood Road, in Kings Norton. 200 DVDs were produced to go out to families who are considering using the service. It has also been shown to the Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust Board who are so impressed by the work taking place there that they have recently requested that the film is added to the Trust’s website! You can view it on the main page here (though I’m not sure how long it will be up for).
I really hope that this film can play a small part in acknowledging the importance of the service and helping to ensure that services continue with the funding that is needed. In our society it’s crucial that we ensure no-one is ever faced with raising a child with severe disabilities without support. And it’s the most fundamental thing that children with disabilities, some of whom will not experience adulthood, have the opportunities to enjoy their childhood.
We’re now full speed ahead with the Friends of Moseley Baths’ Heritage Lottery Fund supported Pool of Memories project after months of planning and interviewing the public. Last month I went into Anderton Park School and worked with eight Year 6 pupils, researching the history of the building, learning how to make films and then interviewing people with memories of the building.
I had a huge amount of fun with the group, and it was especially exciting to see the enthusiasm for the building that the pupils developed over the course of the week. The aim of the project, as well as teaching research, speaking and listening skills, technical film-making skills and interview techniques, was to instill a sense of ownership of the building in the pupils. The upshot is that they can’t wait for it to reopen so that they can go swimming with friends. They can also reel off a whole list of facts and figures about the building, particularly the boiler room, which is astounding!
We’ve now got two short films, edited down from almost an hour of interviews, which we showed to all of Year 6 at the end of the project. The reaction we got was great, and both pupils and teachers asked lots of questions and were interested in running the project again. It really is the case that Moseley Road Baths inspires and excites people of all ages and backgrounds.
Here are a few short films we made with the Flip which is the pupils talking about the project in their own words. The first is a rehearsal of the presentation that the pupils gave to the rest of the Year group. Enjoy and feel free to add your own thoughts on the project using the comments box below!
I’m starting projects at Clifton Junior School and Park Hill School in the next month… more news to follow on that soon!
As you may or may not be aware, when I’m not making films I’m running around doing stuff with the rather lovely group that call ourselves the ‘Friends of Moseley Road Baths‘. As the Baths’ friends we highlight its current plight (open at half capacity with just one pool, in need of urgent repairs and with its future hanging in the balance), campaign for its future and importantly, help celebrate its past.
As part of that I worked with members of the group to make a successful funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a whopping great £48,000 for a ‘Pool of Memories‘ project! I won’t go into huge detail about the project here as I’ve already spent the evening blogging, tweeting and mailing like crazy. However, I draw attention to it now as we have a rather exciting event coming up on Saturday 30th October.
It’s the Memories and Memorabilia Day and there’s loads of stuff going on, including a talk by the lovely people at Victoria Baths in Manchester, tours of the building, and yours truly interviewing people about their memories of the place. We also have cake!
You’ve probably picked up on these pages that I’m incredibly enthusiastic about fresh, exciting and creative ways of learning. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with a broad range of youth groups and young people for all kinds of projects.
I have a particular soft spot for the Creative Partnerships scheme which involves so-called ‘Creative Practitioners’ (that’s shorthand for talented, creative people from a range of disciplines with a passion for learning!), going into schools and inspiring young people and staff through all manner of different workshops. I do film workshops which can focus on literacy, IT, research and communication skills to name the most obvious ones, there are plenty more! The bottom line is that attainment and engagement amongst pupils increases massively in places where these projects run.
So, whilst it’s been on the cards for a while, it’s devastating to hear that the planned cuts to arts funding may hit Creative Partnerships hard. Have a read of this article in today’s Guardian for more on the background to it. On the plus side, this report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows that there is a clear economic benefit to these projects. Whilst measuring Creative Partnerships projects by their economic value kind of misses the point, it does hopefully provide a stronger case for the continuation of the scheme.
Just in case you’re in any doubt about the scheme, here is a video I worked on with young people from Baxter College in Kidderminster. I can’t claim to have been the lead in the project – credit there goes to Hayley Pepler and Alison Grade – it was an inspiring project to be a part of and really highlights the benefits of CP projects. Young people scripted the trailer for a series of programmes they have yet to produce, then quickly picked up the rudiments of filming, sound recording and directing, before going on to liaise with staff and pupils throughout the school to film everything in a day. I’ve met professional film makers that would be unable to pull that off! The buzz that you see in the video isn’t just all show, it’s a genuine excitement that passed around the school as the day wore on. Magic.