This spring we have been working hard with artists and communities to think and talk and make art about connection, we have been connecting with our peers, our families, our friends, our communities, our railways and our heritage to tackle isolation and have a lot of fun!
Our Line Connections was developed to improve feelings of connection in the Bishop Line community to address:
It aimed to build connections between generations and places along the line.
In 2017 BLCRP partnered with Luxi to produce the ‘Our Line’ audio play to listen to on the Bishop Line train. In 2020 the Our Line app was updated to be listened to anywhere to gain mindfulness during the challenging times experienced in lockdown. Importantly, listener feedback highlighted that ‘Our Line’ could prompt meaningful conversations in the community around ‘connection’, sparking memories, feelings of hope and reduce feelings of loneliness.
In Spring 2021 Luxi, BLCRP and Northern evaluated what project success and failure looked like, using the ‘Wheel of Failure’ tool and developed a concept to deliver successful outcomes.
Funding from Cross Country Trains, Arts Council England, County Durham Community Foundation, Durham County Council, The National Lottery Community Fund and Locomotion enabled the group to engage a team of artists and creatives to develop the concept into a programme of activities within the community, building on the foundations of ‘Our Line’.
The team of artists were selected for their skills in building trusting relationships and connections between people & others, places, their histories, heritage & memories, each bringing an enquiry they hoped to explore through the project.
In early 2022 schools and care homes were invited to join the project with the aim of connecting 1 primary school/nursery with 1 secondary school and 1 care home in each of 3 localities along the line.
Despite positive response from care homes, covid challenges meant the project was unable to engage them as full partners. Instead we found isolated and struggling adults through other groups like Greenfield Cree Men, Head of Steam Dementia Group and Darlington for Culture, who all engaged.
Participants took part in 5 sessions:
Participants used different senses and creativity to express their own sense of connection, learn about those of others and create songs and artwork that celebrate and describe connection. They developed artistic, song writing and performance skills, practiced mental wellbeing techniques and developed confidence and self-expression.
Between February and June 2022 200+ people engaged in over 42 workshops in 6 schools and 3 community groups.
The project will be celebrated at 2pm on 22 June 2022 with 100+ participants together.
Planned workshops have finished and due to their success, extra sessions have been requested, those with the Cree Men have started already.
Evaluation has been ongoing throughout the project and following the celebration the team will review the project using the following tools:
A final report will be published on www.our-line.net.
Our Line Connection achieved 3rd Place for best project involving diverse groups in the 2022 Community Rail Awards.