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Together Again

March 2021 to March 2022

Together Again gave residents in North Shields and Wallsend the chance to explore, reconnect and shape the future of their town. The project builds on our 'Town Common Festival'.

Image credit: Laurelle Kamara (2021)

Together Again gave people space to explore their connection with their towns North Shields and Wallsend. Residents shared their hopes and vision for the high streets and town centres. Artists Jay Sykes, Alizon Bennet and Sofia Barton ran a wide range of exciting creative experiences.

The Impact

Celebrating Positive Changes

Together Again had a positive impact on those who took part and the wider community. The artist led experiences increased people’s confidence talking about issues that mattered to them. One family at North Shields Customer First Centre shared their positive thoughts about the redevelopment taking place in Northumberland Square and the wider heritage action zone cultural activity.

Reducing Isolation

In addition, creative experiences gave people time to connect reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness that had been exacerbated by the pandemic. For example, one new mam with her ‘lockdown baby’ attended a workshop. She shared she was so happy things were opening up and allowing her to get out again and wanted to know more about our other projects.

Reaching Diverse People in Our Communities

Furthermore, we reached people who may have fewer opportunities to take part in creative activities. This included carers, families, refugees and asylum seekers. One asylum seeker told us he had been sent to North Shields by the home office. He talked about our beautiful green and blue spaces giving him peace. most people new to the area were thankful for the welcome they had received by the community.

Gaining Insights Following Covid-19

Throughout ‘Together Again’ the wider community was included taking part in conversations through social media and the exhibition of artwork. Listening to the community Helix Arts staff gathered insights about residents’ hopes for both towns.

Creative Producer Elizabeth Kane said: “Together Again happened at a crucial moment for communities. With talk of ‘the new normal’ fading and pandemic restrictions lift, Together Again gave people the chance to visualise a fairer, greener and more creative future. What should the high street could become? What should our town look, feel and work like.”

Creative Experiences in North Shields and Wallsend

Diverse people took part in creative activities allowing them to explore their connection to North Shields and Wallsend.

Families and Children Explored Their Connection with Their Hometowns

Alizon Bennet worked with children and families. She led workshops in North Shields and Wallsend branch libraries. The young artists created collage cubes. These colourful sculptures were inspired by their ideas about what their town and what the high street should look like and do in the future.

The Voices of Wallsend and North Shields

In addition, Jay Sykes invited residents of North Shields and Wallsend to share their voices. He visited the high streets in both towns, surrounding area and green spaces. The spirit of North Shields and Wallsend is about being happy to chat and giving someone your time. You can listen to the piece below ‘A Tale of Two North Tyneside Towns’.

People want our community and those in power to champion our heritage, address challenges and look forward and innovate. They want to tell everyone how brilliant our towns were and will be again. We have shared a copy with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums for their local history collection.

Home Illustrated

After that Sofia Barton worked with the community at Walking With and Wallsend Customer First Centre. Walking With welcomes, befriends and supports refugees, asylum seekers and others in need in the community. Participants explored their emerging connection to Wallsend. Her workshops provided a safe space for people to share their experience and practice their English speaking skills.

Lighting Up North Shields

Importantly our exhibition plans evolved and were guided by participants’ views. They told us they wanted more activity and investment in North Shields Bedford Street and the surrounding area.

We illuminated North Shields Town Centre with images created during the project. We were thankful for support from North Tyneside Council and Nexus. You can view a selection of images from this event below. Enjoy!

Thanks to our Project Funders

‘Together Again’ is funded by the Co-op Foundation’s ‘Space to Connect’ fund.

This fund supports exploring how we can make better use of our community space to meet local challenges. ‘Together Again’ is an Enhance project. Enhance projects are for organisations already using a community space in an innovative and creative way, and you want to expand activities and embed sustainable ways of working to build a more secure future.

The Co-op Foundation is shaped by values of equality and equity, social responsibility, democracy, and honesty and openness.

For further information please contact Elizabeth Kane (She/Her), Creative Producer.

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