‘Life As We Know It’: the value of the arts as a tool for reflection, story telling and affecting policy

by Briege Nugent, Shaun Glowa and Iain Shaw with Liam Docherty, Roxsanne McGowan, Jordan Lee and Chloe Williams

21 Jan 2022
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
11 (pp. 53-63)

Abstract: The Independent Care Review’s ‘The Promise’, published in February 2020, sets out an ambition for Scotland ‘to be the best place in the world to grow up’ so that children are ‘loved, safe, and respected and realise their full potential’. A key foundation of this work is the inclusion of the voices of young people so they are involved in decision making. This article reports on the project ‘Life As We Know It’, which has involved a small group of young adults from across Scotland with experience of care being involved in participatory evaluations, and in turn reflecting on issues of voice in relation to when they were younger.

The project, which was conducted throughout the pandemic, used participatory video methods, creative writing, music, and the creation of Zines, which are self-published booklets of original or appropriated texts and images, as effective evaluative tools for personal reflection and research. The learning has highlighted the benefits of using the arts to help young people shape and mould the stories they want to tell. This project has shown the importance of support, the value of having an ethics of care and reflective stance, and the need to emphasise the progress made but also in turn help young people find their voice about where improvements in policy and practice are needed. This article argues that there is a need to carefully consider the ways in which young people’s voices are heard, and that the arts offer a unique opportunity for this process to be enjoyable as well as meaningful.

Keywords: Young people, care experienced, arts, rights, participation.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 8, supplementary issue 4 (Multidisciplinary perspectives on the child’s voice in public policy).

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