Community Co-Design

In 2022 we started working with people and groups from our community in a new way.

With the generous support of our funders we had an opportunity to take more time to listen closely and find out what people really needed from us, and then help them to deliver it.

Through this work we want to reach a more diverse range of people in our community, and use our skills to make positive change. Historically The Garage’s work has focused on children and young people. This work is about extending our remit, targeting people and groups who have shared lived experience of challenges, which include those with physical disability and neurodiversity, or who live in areas of deprivation and low social mobility.  

How does it work? 

Together we identify a change people want to make, either for themselves or the wider community, then set up a steering group to co-design creative projects which will help to address this change. The Trust works on an equal footing with co-designers, bringing our creative skills and sometimes jointly commissioning artists to support delivery. The projects also provide local people with training opportunities and the chance to build networks to improve their local areas or personal circumstances

The changes we want to make

Specific outcomes differ, depending on the project. The steering groups decide what the impact should be, and how they will measure it. As a general approach, we want to:

  • help more, and a more diverse range of, people to participate in the arts
  • find progression routes and training to help people from different backgrounds get into the arts sector
  • support people to work together towards a common goal of positive social change

What we have learned 

We are facing challenges and learning a lot through the co-design process. As well as staying true to The Garage Trust’s vision to change people’s lives through art, we’ve begun to link our education and inclusion work much more closely to our co-designed community projects. This way, we can deepen our impact rather than spreading ourselves thinly across too many areas on short-term projects.  

As we reflect on, and look ahead to, the continuation of this work we will focus on finding more training routes and opportunities for people, and we want to look at how our artistic input can lead to more sustainable positive community action. 

We also want to share our experience of co-design across the sector. As arts organisations, what can we do to help each other get better at this? And of course we want to hear from other partners who are interested in working with us. Perhaps you have an idea for a joint project?

The Jenny Lind Youth Project

Tuesdays 6-8pm term time – @ Bread and Roses Cafe, Vauxhall Street 

First session – Tuesday 7 November with Sarah, Jamal and Elliot 

Take control, make a change and volunteer in your community. We need your voice and ideas! 

Take part in local community social action projects, take part in fun and creative activities and free food and drinks each week. 

What is social action? Social action is about people coming together to help improve their lives and solve the problems 

That are important in their communities. The social action projects will be decided and organised by you, with guidance and help from our experienced facilitators, from The Garage and The Targeted Youth Support Service. This is an opportunity to take the lead, create your own projects, doing what you want to do as a group. 

FREE to participate for young people aged 11 years + living near to or who hang out near to the Jenny Lind Park, Norwich.

Email natalie.songer@thegarage.org.uk if you have an idea for a co-design project.