For young people aged 8 to 19

Main activities

Weekly MakerLab sessions for young people aged 8 to 19, design and technology, 3D printing, 3D scanning using 3D pens.



Key outcomes

  • Improved social links and ties
  • Increased confidence, knowledge, skills and assets
  • Collective action and control



Exploring Senses CIC and their ‘MakerLab’ project delivered weekly MakerLab sessions for young people aged 8 to 19 on Thursday afternoons in Brighton, at the youth club of the local community centre. The project aimed to help people become 'happy citizens' using arts and combined technologies. Members made physical and digital objects with arts, crafts, science, design and technology, including 3D printing, 3D scanning using 3D pens, and interactive sounds.

Activities were held at three sites around the Brighton area, and collaboration with partners such as technology company ‘Polaroid’ and local art centres enabled the project to display the young people’s creations. The group had high attendance, with new people tending to join after word of mouth referrals.

A project member with their creation.

A key achievement for the project was improved social connections for both the young members and their parents. Young people who went to different schools, were of different ages and who came from different backgrounds made friends with one another.

“Some of the young people who come here live for this session. They are excited every week.” (Project lead)

Parents, particularly those of the younger children, also attended sessions and this resulted in new friendships among adults too. The project lead described the project as ‘the hub of a community’.

“In terms of the neighbourhood we have increased friendships, peer groups between young people, between their parents, between their siblings. This project has become a community.” (Project lead)

Collective control, according to the project lead, came in the form of all members ‘having a say’ and receiving the freedom to use each activity session as they wanted. This was key to getting the young people involved and keeping them engaged, but also built a sense of creative freedom outside of the authority of a school setting, enhancing a sense of individual autonomy among members.

“It's about giving ownership. If you are in control of what you're doing, you will get on with it. A lot of parents say it is their kid's favourite thing of the week, and that's because we allow them that freedom.” (Project lead)

The project lead, staff and parents all agreed that when social connections improve, a young person naturally becomes more confident, more willing to speak and suggest ideas. Collective control is therefore an outcome which develops over time, supported by improved social connections.

The way the young people supported each other also developed over time, as longstanding members of the group became increasingly confident with how to use the 3D pen technology, to the extent that they felt able to take initiative in teaching others. Both the social connections and the improved skills that they developed were important in building confidence and there were examples of significant individual progress being made.

“We had one member who went from almost exclusion at school to being a trainee at Brighton FC. We are part of that journey. They get acknowledged for their skills in a way that school doesn't. It gives them confidence and self-belief.” (Project lead)

The project was funded by People’s Health Trust with money raised through The Health Lottery South East.

This case study was carried out by Ecorys UK, who are conducting an independent evaluation of People's Health Trust's Active Communities programme. This case study formed part of the last year of the evaluation process.

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