‘45 Minutes’

When a young person is experiencing crisis, whether it is at home or while living in residential or foster carers’ establishments, they often have the perception that adults do not understand them. This can lead to turning to external attachments that they feel represent a source of relief for them, which can then further drive them down the road of self-destructive behaviour. This behaviour then impacts on other children, staff, families, support services and the wider community.

Across the Midlands young boys in care are especially and increasingly experiencing mental health issues and these issues are manifesting themselves in some worrying trends, such as teenage knife crimes, County Lines, gang violence, property damages in children’s homes, aggressive behaviour and theft.

‘45 Minutes’ is a programme designed to offer creative therapy support to young people to manage and deal with identity and everyday crises and offers some supportive time-out in a creative, safe, non-judgemental and impartial environment. This is an innovative approach to getting young people engaged through artsy and creative activities without being labelled or judged. The aim of this initiative is to support children and young people, children’s homes establishments, foster carers and the youth offending services.

These are some of the issues ‘45 minutes’ addresses in a relaxed and friendly environment while engaging in creative projects.

Safe choices
Being afraid to say I am afraid
In my head
My happy
Myself
How to earn respect

Young people can also try out leather craft, screen printing, ceramics clay and paper art, subject to a risk assessment.

The programme involves self-awareness counselling but not as you would normally envision it. It takes the form of creating some form of clay pottery, digital photography manipulation, poetry and spoken words as the basis for breaking down barriers and developing trust.

Sometimes mainstream education presents challenges for some young people due to a whole host of social and environmental issues. These issues can place tremendous strain on local government and families, ranging from family dysfunctions, identity issues or mental health issues and may require a combination of practical hands-on solutions and, what we call, social counselling, to support and stabilise these circumstances.

The BCAG offers one of these channels for young people to engage in an alternative environment where they feel secure and where they will not be labelled as failures.

A specialised and experienced team of artists, art therapists and other professionals are managed by one of the art directors and artists, Albert Wallace, an ex-residential children’s homes manager, who has been involved with children’s homes for over 19 years at various levels. Albert has a keen understanding of the various issues and crises both children and young people face, but most importantly, the different levels of services being offered to young people and the new safe and innovative approach that is required to help transform lives in positive ways for good outcomes.

The programme is set in an open spaced art gallery building in Brindley Place, Birmingham and is designed to get young people engaged in meaningful activities straight away.

Together we can contribute in transforming some of our most vulnerable children’s lives using tried and tested ways, but with a touch of innovative and creative mix that will give young people a creative escape and a chance to reset their outlook, behaviour and future.