Wigton Salvation army band.

Young people – Where to next…

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What Cumbria Speaks did -

In 2016 the project began by interviewing 21 older residents of Wigton, with the view of making their experiences of life in and beyond Wigton, accessible to everyone. Our aim was to provide a way of passing that material on to the younger members of the community. We felt it was important for children to know about what happened in their town before they, and in many cases, their parents were born. This project aimed to inform children about the history of their home town and give them a knowledge and a pride in where they come from.

What we found -

We found that the children engaged as much with the sound recordings as with the short stories for which they did their illustrations. The sound was presented to them as one minute clips which they heard during the illustration workshops. The children listened with headphones and enjoyed hearing the voices of the interviewees. They went on to tell family members about what they were doing. Stories were discussed in school with teachers and with each other. Most children had little or no knowledge of their local heritage. For example many were surprised to learn that people shared toilets and had none in their own homes. They didn’t know that Wigton had a Lemonade factory, a cinema and a gasworks in the town. We have found no historic material (specific to localised towns) that caters for children – despite there being vibrant history groups and local historians. This is a missed opportunity and Cumbria Speaks would like to address it. We also feel that there are many local historians and teaching staff who would volunteer to help develop such a project.

What we hope for -

Cumbria Speaks aims to consolidate what has been learnt during this project and provide a more information/educationally substantial book and linked work-packs. We hope to consult widely with young people in youth activities, local schools and education departments and would appreciate any feedback and possible volunteers who might be interested in developing this aspect of the project.

From Mid November 2019 the Cumbria Speaks Project will begin a research and development phase to explore how best the project can go forward. We will be looking at several possibilities which include continued work with children to explore their heritage and to become involved in gathering that heritage. There are a growing number of projects where children play a key role and we at Cumbria Speaks hope to enable the work they do to become more accessible. The project invites children, schools and the public to get in touch with us about any projects they are hoping to develop