Yorkshire Youth and Music at the ‘Young People, the Arts and Mental Health’ conference in Leeds

At the Leeds Cultural Institute Conference ‘Young People, the Arts and Mental Health’ on 20th June 2019, Yorkshire Youth and Music’s partnership with Adel Beck Secure Children’s Home featured as one of the principal workshops. Our Director, Gail Dudson, joined an expert panel talking about creative digital technology and young people’s mental health.  

Artwork by Buttercrumble

As we’ve been working in Adel Beck for more than five years, we have a wealth of evaluation and experience to share about some of the most vulnerable young people in the country. In addition to their vulnerabilities, our young people are deprived of liberty, for however short a time, and are separated from all that is familiar to them, which is stressful in itself.

With contributions from Ian Nicholls (Deputy Head of Education at Adel Beck), Chris Morris (Lead Musician) and Gail, the workshop explained the approaches to managing young people whose life chances may have been few, and who may have multiple conditions (for example, autistic spectrum) which make everyday life a challenge for them. Multi-disciplinary teams for health, social and education work together in Adel Beck to help residents develop the skills and attitudes they will need to lead a contented, self-managed life.

We were able to share (anonymised) case studies of young people who had found musical self-expression, learning and achievement a transformative experience, and to show the value and esteem that music activities are held in, by both residents and staff. We outlined the processes of understanding and encouragement needed to work effectively in the music studio with young people who may have a turbulent life history and find secure environments a challenge. And we discussed the important place that musical preferences have in young people’s sense of their identity; and the challenge to musicians and educators to discuss music which may reflect or encourage poor life choices and attitudes.

We ended with some video of superb performances by young people, including at ‘AdelFest’, an occasional celebration event which young people lead and organise and which includes food, costume design and creative arts work, as well as music.

Elsewhere the conference discussed the positive and negative potential of digital and social media, for young people; the creative possibilities offered by new technology, and the risks of isolation and disconnection.

Leeds Cultural Institute is part of the University of Leeds, and aims to increase pioneering research collaborations with the creative sector. You can find more information and a short summary video of the conference here.

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