Local People in Southend-on-Sea supported by Scope

13 October 2016

"No one was treated any differently from anyone else, we were all just part of the Fringe"

“As part of the Local People project we hold regular meetings, which we like to call get-togethers. At one of these get-togethers, some residents said that they’d like to do something arty.

From having a conversation about running some art classes, we got talking about street art and started a series of classes at the local community college working with Project 49, a local day service for adults with learning disabilities.

One of the carers that comes along to the get-togethers used to be Artistic Director of the Estuary Fringe Festival, so we came up with the idea of feeding into that. The whole thing just snowballed, with various other groups getting involved: community groups, art groups and people from a local residential home.

There was one guy who was just standing at a bus stop nearby, saw what we were doing, and liked it so much that he got involved and started painting as well. What was nice was no one was treated any differently from anyone else, we were all just part of the Fringe. 

“It’s the first time I have done graffiti. It was fun and nice and easy. I am really proud of my work. I like being outside to do the graffiti.” - Carol, resident

It was a great event to be part of. All the residents involved had fun and felt a great sense of achievement.

People were having their photos taken next to their artwork and when they went home they were able to show people and say, ‘this is what I was part of, this is what I’ve created.’

The people who run the Fringe were looking for ways to involve people who are disabled. Now they want to make the event inclusive for the whole community. Being part of the Fringe has opened up that conversation about how everybody can get involved and how art can cross boundaries.

During the festival people you wouldn’t think would talk to each other were chatting. It was great to see people having conversations that would not have happened otherwise because art broke down any barriers. The Fringe Festival might be over, but those conversations are continuing to happen.

Members of the Local People project are talking to other groups about how they can get involved with different activities and we’re even talking about what we can do at the festival next year to build on this success. It’s opened up doors and new possibilities.”  

Everybody got involved and had a part that they could play. It gave people who are involved in the Local People project a chance to be out in the community more often, breaking down stereotypes and making new friendships.

Mark Bromfield - Community Engagement Coordinator

Local People project in Southend, Essex, supported by Scope


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