Today we are talking with Oenone Thomas – AYCH project coordinator in Devon County Council
What is your role in AYCH project?
Life isn´t always a straight journey for lot of people, sometimes it´s bad luck or good luck. Sometimes unexpected happens and you can just take opportunities and you have to make opportunities to happen. My role is about allowing people to do things they are good at. Not to be giving orders, not to be a dictator but just to facilitate how people can do their best. It is more an awareness and sometimes having to make decisions but the whole collaborative work is about using people strengths well. So I am not trying to do their job, my role is to ensure that everything is working together; it is more like being a conductor in an orchestra.
Is it hard to coordinate so many partners of the project?
It´s impossible in same basis for me to solve the problem, because it is not my problem, it is someone´s else. All I can do is to keep on top of the problem and to try to find a solution. However, you can only do that when people you work with understand the limit of your influence. I try to do influencing then, but there are some things beyond my control, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn´t. You have to be there to listen.
For me in this role there is a European dimension. In Spain you have big unemployment and in UK we don´t have so much. On the other hand, Spain is more productive than UK. So the challenge for youth is slightly different in those countries, but for us all as a planet the challenge is the same. So we need to confront climate change, biodiversity, our society getting older with young people trying to find their place in that society. The challenge is the same, but an immediate experience for youth is slightly different.
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part is working in the transnational events with partners and young people. That´s what AYCH is all about. Working on spread sheets, writing to the Join Secretariat, thinking about risks, that´s all things I do but my favourite is to go to Creative Jam to feel energy among young people and to see results of our work. But a result is just a beginning. Young people change because of it. So for me is the result but for a young person it is very often a start.
What is the essence of the project?
Personally I think this European dimension of the project is essential. It is not always easy. Working collaboratively always sounds great, but sometimes is difficult. If you ask people opinions and you ask your colleagues and young people what they thing about something, then you have to listen to them, to what they thing about it and then somehow you have to agree about what are you going to do and sometimes it is quite a tricky process. People often say that they are collaborative but in reality they are not. People say that, but then collaboration is ok only if it is working as how they see it. So collaboration is always an art, it´s a compromise, but it is also a synergy which makes it very, very powerful. I think with AYCH what we have is all the partners, all the young people have learnt a new way of working. It takes time to actually discover what the essence of the programme is. And the essence is to think about problems before and discovering solutions rather than having technologies and thinking what you can do with them. So it is how you can apply mix of tools and imagination. In the project you feel that you can make a positive difference and it is important to have this feeling, because if you feel powerless, you feel you cannot make a contribution and to make a change you end up depressed and frustrated. It is only when you think I can help, I can do this, I can make a positive difference it makes you begin to use intellect, your skills in a very different way. We all have a contribution that we can make. That realisation makes us think and gives us power to actually make a change. The minute you say to someone don´t worry about that, you can´t do anything, that person would just give up. So I think it´s really nice when young people along with partners, strangers really, come together, make friends, exchange ideas. It´s the same with me and my colleagues. Two years ago I didn´t know Xosé, I didn´t know Eli, any of them. Now I know them very well and it is not just because I have spent time with them, it´s because we are working on a common cause and working on a common cause is very powerful motivator.
I am writing to you today about the situation with Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs and the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our work. As we operate in different organisations in France, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom we each have different combinations of organisational and national directives to follow. We wholeheartedly accept our responsibility to safe-guard our participants and colleagues. In addition, as global citizens we wish to actively reduce the spread of the virus and to support our governments and health services in their efforts to protect us all.
Nevertheless, all AYCH partners are committed to continuing our work with young people. We are actively working transnationally to put in place alternative means of delivering existing activities and offering new opportunities too. We have postponed our Transnational Creative Jam until the autumn of 2020 and we will keep in touch with you about that. We want you to be able to continue with your projects, plans and participation.
All of us are in a state of uncertainty. But your local AYCH hub will be able to help you. To keep safe, and if your movements are restricted, visit websites and contact AYCH hubs remotely to check what to do. Remember, that young people seem to suffer mild symptoms but can spread the Coronavirus without knowing it. I hope that you, your friends and families remain safe in these challenging times. We look forward to continuing to work with you, it’s what we are here to do!
AYCH Coordinator for the Lead Partner Devon County Council
Today we are talking with Komal Khan, an AYCH ambassador in Gijón.
Hi Komal, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I just completed my master recently, it was Erasmus Mundus master, it was focused in sustainable transportation, electric and electrical power systems. I conducted my master thesis in a topic of using of the blockchain for energy trading purposes. I also used some IoT technologies to complete my project. That was my master, now I am a PhD candidate, recently I just signed my contract, I received governmental scholarship in Spain for my PhD studies in the same field. So I am trying to create a platform that I have already designed, trying to add more features to my design and propose it to the market.
What do you know about AYCH programme?
I already participated last year in Creative Jam, it was organised in Gijón and it was very interesting and motivating experience. Through AYCH you can find new methodologies, new ideas, different approach and opinions and all of that AYCH tries to coordinate and arrange. It encourages young people to come up with new ideas to make this world a better place to live in. So last year it was very inspiring and I had an opportunity to gave a workshop connected to the topic of my thesis. I used an algorithm programme, it was a visual programming tool and basically my workshop taught about using of that programme. I liked that, because in this way you can present your knowledge and in the same time you can integrate different ideas. You presents something and maybe someone who is in the audience can be inspired by your idea and create some new solutions in the future. I think it is a very good opportunity, so I am delighted to participate and to contribute to this programme.
What is being an AYCH ambassador for you?
Being an AYCH ambassador is to participate in something that I want other people to involve in as well. It is a social interaction for me. I am working in the scientific field, but you can´t only see academic approach, it is also needed to expose your ideas in other environment, with people less connected with scientific work. You can enhance your knowledge; maybe you will find better solutions. I am proud that I can represent AYCH programme as an ambassador.
What are your future plans?
I’ll continue my research work and join academics for the training of our youth to prepare them in the field of technology. Moreover, I am intended to mentor specially the females to increase their participation in STEMS field.
After having carefully studied the current situation on the COVID-19 problem in Europe, the Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs project partnership has decided to POSTPON THE CREATION OF THE CREATIVE JAM DE SANTO TIRSO. We will give information of the new date in a future communication.
Xosé L. Garza Silvela
Chair of Communication
Today we are talking with Richard Doak who is youth worker in Space, an organisation that supports young people from different backgrounds by realizing their potential.
Richard, tell us a little about your work and about Space.
I work in the Space for over 10 years now, I am a qualified youth worker and I have a specialism in music that I developed over the years with the young people. I ´ve built recording studios in our youth centres, I am entrained to the music equipment, electronic music and production. That´s kind of where my area of expertise is.
So how does it look your cooperation with young people?
You impact and talk to young people, you give them advices and guidelines, but it is not that we force it on the young people. So it´s for them to think about and maybe it has an effect later in the future, so it´s sort of information and letting young people come to the right conclusions, make their own decisions. We are not dictating what someone must and can´t do, we are just advising and letting them explore. Having a constant, like youth workers, so when young people experiment with something and it is not going well or they want to talk about it so they can come back to us and we look at good and bad sites, so it´s a developing process but in very informal way.
Are you working alone with youth or there is a team?
I am the only full-time worker in the project and I have a colleague in North Devon, because it is so far. He delivers evening sessions with young people up in the north and then I am covering middle and the south, so that´s my delivery.
What´s the best part of your job?
Work with teenagers, it´s always exciting, challenging, it keeps my brain thinking of new activities.
How does work the incubation process in Space?
In Space we have the same deliverables as any other association in AYCH but the way we are doing things is slightly different, mostly because we are working with younger participants of 14-19 years old. We are doing three hubs, one on south, another on north and the last one in the middle, it´s 1,5 hour of travel, so you can see the distance. So the incubation process I am doing is slightly different because of the age range. So we meet up every week and I just keep it constant. Some weeks we are working on design, some weeks we look at the business, but it is still very informal. Like, if you are looking at Plymouth Collage of Art for example, they have a list which says on this day we are doing this, on that they we are doing that and you just have to go, but for me it´s like constant move, we keep it relaxed and just work on ideas slowly without a panic. Some weeks someone can have a problem, because something in his life has happened, so some weeks I just have to forget about incubation and just do a youth work, give my support. Another weeks we are very productive.
You will do a workshop during Creative Jam in Santo Tirso, what is it about?
The workshop is going to be about sewing a glow with chips on it to control the music with the hand. So we will make sewing to create a glow and then make coding to connect chips from the glow with a laptop and when they will coding then it will work. Santo Tirso is specialized in fashion so I wanted to do something relevant to what they are doing that´s why the workshop connects sound and fashion.
What do you think about AYCH project?
I think it´s great, the project is both challenging and exciting for Space, because we´ve never done anything like that before. It is really good opportunity to try new things. We developed our technologies as well, cause we didn´t have a lot in our youth centres, so now we have 3d printers, laser cutters, VR equipment, so we could move foreward to inspire young people as well.
Joao is an AYCH ambassador in Santo Tirso. He was 4 years old when he decided to become a fashion designer and he never changed his mind. He had the opportunity to work with many professionals of the fashion industry in Portugal, with his school projects, national and international fashion contests. In 2018 he made his first fashion collection for Spring Summer 19 entitled “Filhos do Lago” and had an opportunity to make the first debut show at Bloom, the platform for young fashion designers in Portugal Fashion Week. In 2019 he returned to Portuguese fashion week with his vision for Fall Winter 19 “Refuge” collection, highlighted by Vogue Italia as one of the best of PTFW Winter Season.
Joao, why did you choose fashion designing as a career?
Since I was a child I always was doing creative things in school and home. My family is involved in the fashion industry and arts, so I grew up with the idea of becoming a fashion designer. I started my journey as a designer in Porto Fashion School and I started to develop myself professionally. I love work with solid colours as cream and white and do lots of handmade things to transform my pieces in exclusive garments for my clients.
How did you discovered AYCH?
I discovered AYCH because I was in Fábrica de Santo Thyrso hub and someone from the project presented me the idea, I liked it and joined it.
AYCH it’s an amazing opportunity of developing your project and connecting with young people from other countries and backgrounds. It helps to discover new things, cultures, and inspirations.
What do you think about the project? Does international cooperation among young people is needed?
Yes! When I was in Plymouth in January I absolutely loved the experience! Being an ambassador of my project and the Portuguese fashion industry makes me proud of my journey!
And how do you understand the role of Ambassador?
I think that an ambassador should support other to not give up of their dreams and projects. I am not able to support them financially or with “job stuff” because I don’t have professional background. But at least I can give other hope and a “don’t give up” message, for me it is amazing to feel supported!
How do you see your role in the project in near future?
I hope to be able to travel to other countries and represent my country and my work! I think it would be an interesting opportunity!
Thomas Martin Loveder is an ambassador of AYCH programme in Plymouth, graduated in photography. He witnessed Plymouth’s creative hubs progression from the first creative jam and he would like to see what the future holds for AYCH.
Hi Tom, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, my name is Tom, so there’s a little about me… haha, so I’d like to think of myself as a pretty rounded person getting through life like anyone else would, learning new lessons and figuring out old ones. It is my passion for humanity & community, that fuels the ideas collated alongside research into subjects such as Photography, geometry, physics, 3D Design, the histories of both world religion & indigenous belief systems. This then drives my creative practice, which leads to engaging with a variety of different groups & projects working across the city of Plymouth that is being achieved with the creation of Free Radical Creations – Community Interest Company.
With my study of Photography at Plymouth College of Art for 5 years on both an Extended Diploma & Bachelor Honors Degree, coming to a close with graduating I was first introduced to AYCH. It was way back at the first creative Jam, which I still remember as a great day with so many interesting people and a great atmosphere for sharing ideas.
AYCH – what this mean to you?
AYCH for me is amongst many beacons of hope, hope towards a future of positive ingenuity in the social creative field where entrepreneurs can work together solving challenges and creating impact.
What do you think about the project?
From what I know of the AYCH project I can say my thoughts are that it’s absolutely brilliant, every experience delivered that I’ve been able to attend has been memorable for all the right reasons. A few of them being facilitating events with great enthusiasm making sure the engagements were diverse & thoroughly interesting, whilst also paying attention to inclusivity and organising safe external visits to places such as the Tate Modern.
I believe that international cooperation among young people is needed, in order to creatively solve world issues that we all currently face. Young spirited people, need to come together and work on ways to keep pushing the creative boundaries by thinking outside the box in order to come up with creative solutions.
And how do you understand the role of Ambassador?
My understanding of a role as an ambassador is to carry my AYCH story and share that whenever it is appropriate and at every opportunity. I see my role continuing with my story growing and hope to be able to engage with more AYCH events that the future holds.
On Saturday took place the Bideford creative jam, unfortunately due to a massive storm in UK, a lot of participants could not attend.
However, terrible weather did not stop everyone and for those who got there, a lot of creative workshops were waiting. That day a knowledge of areas such as Programming, Virtual Art, 3D engines, 3D printing and more, was shared.
One of the participants, Carl, was particularly impressed by the use of virtual headset that put you into a simulation of a school that then imposed issues onto the user. Things like a sense of dyslexia, showing how words are not clear to the user, things like hypersensitivity to light, aiming to simulate how things look to someone who lives with that issue, also things like anxiety were explored. He summed it up saying that it is hard to grasp how others perceive the world around them, and whilst this virtual world cannot put you in their shoes directly it can give you a better understanding of how things like dyslexia and anxiety play a part in worldly perception.
After all, the wind and rain didn´t stop the share of ideas and knowledge and some of people come back home with heads and hearts full of a new experience.
Today we are talking with Roy Jones, the director of Pacificstream, a company specialised in supporting entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds across a diverse range of the creative and digital industries.
Roy, you have been involved with the creative industries since 1971, so you can evaluate things from more wide perspective. What is your opinion about present creative industries situation? Did it change from the time you started to work in this field?
Speaking of it from being in UK, there has been a difference; first of all, whole digital thing appeared. When I started to work in creative industries we didn’t even had a computer. Also, what I suppose happened here in the UK is that the creative industry as a sector is seen as very significant for development of cities. Liverpool for example, just only this week, recognizes that they have created more digital design jobs that any other city in the North of England.
This area where we are at the moment is a creative quarter. Ten years ago we moved here and we were the only company working with the creative industry. This area now is just full of people working in the creative industry, so it’s like every other person walking down the street is carrying a guitar.
The other side of that is when I first started to work in creative working it was easier to get employment within the big companies. Nowadays, it’s very difficult. So, a lot of people start their own businesses and that’s where we involve, we support young people setting up there their own businesses within the creative industry. We work with designers, musicians, performers, etc. helping them start their business. It always have been self-employed designers, one person, company if you like, working individually, but it’s so much more important recently, because it’s just so difficult to get work, it’s so competitive.
It seems that it is really hard for creative people to break through nowadays, cause of the competition on the market. So, how exactly Pacific Stream support young creative people to make their businesses really working?
It’s making sure that they have right business head, you have to have entrepreneurial approach to work. And again, traditionally people in creative industries haven’t been entrepreneurs, they don’t think like business people. That’s a big generalization, but also it’s true. You don’t find many artists that consider themselves businessmen. And it’s around intellectual property as well, getting people to recognize the true worth of their intellectual properties, their ideas. We’ve been in the industry where people give so much away and the art is not valued in the same way. If you employ a lawyer or a plumber you are ready to pay them to get it right, you believe they have right knowledge and skills to get a job done. But in the same time, an artist or a designer, they have a lot of skills, lot of knowledge they have gained over the years but people don’t seem to appreciate it in the same way or to understand it in the same way. Classic example ´why should I pay that much for a painting? ´
Or for a photography.
Yes, nowadays we can all take photos on our smartphones, but we are not photographers, are we? And you can see the difference between somebody that has the understanding of design and form, colours and everything else. So we help people to promote and market themselves, help them run their business, what they need legally as a business, all that stuff they need to know to operate.
And can you tell me, what are benefits of Pacific Stream to be a part of AYCH?
We were the fist people with Plymouth who talked about the whole idea. Plymouth College of Art came up to see us, see what we were doing with business development on the business incubator we have, operating it with creative industries. That is how came the idea of the project of AYCH. Together with Plymouth we were almost the instigators of the project in the first place, cause it’s something we were involved on various levels for many years. Previously one of our big European projects was looking at virtual incubation for the creative industries. Now this project works with more actual hands-on support, so in this case bricks-and-mortar co working space. Bricks-and-mortar incubator rather than virtual one. So, we’ve been involved with this work, twelve years or more, with this area.
So how the incubation is working?
We have space in Liverpool where people can come and have a desk to work, so they can be people coming in with access 24/7 and we are there to give them help, we call it hot desk. So they can come just for few hours of a day, or 3 days a week, a week, it depends of what they want. There is a cost of that, but in the moment we are able to subsidise that through the project. And those who are in the project they have to pay as well, but it is still very low rate, it’s not expensive. We try to make it easy as possible to them to have a physical space where they can work out and they work in the area that is full of other creative people. There are so many people to co-working, so a lot of work is done by just bumping into someone else in the café. If you are a graphic designer you may need a photographer, if you are a photographer you may need a videographer and so on.
What is your target audience?
Anyone who has a creative idea, so it doesn’t have to be a person involved directly in creative industries. If they have creative idea we approach it the way so they can develop that idea, that idea may become a business or it may help to build a portfolio. We’ve got two engineers and two doctors working with at the moment on an idea that has nothing to do with health. I am working with the group of Chinese student studying international business and their idea is to develop an app for promoting tourism within China town here in Liverpool.
My background is education. I was an art teacher for many years, so I moved to Liverpool to teach art. I think I am the only business advisor with art degree. I got out of Academia 20 years ago but because my teaching was around photography and drawing and though photography I got more involved in teaching some new technologies around web design in Photoshop and all that kind of applications. It was through web design I got more involved in business, because we started designing websites for companies but we ending up supporting the company as well. And then within the European work we were the partner who did a website for communication site of the project.