Play and wellbeing workshop for Northfleet community

Staff in the School of Arts and in Kent School of Architecture and Planning have teamed up with artists, creatives and Northfleet Big Local to harness the power of play with wellbeing workshops for the local community on Friday 1 October. All are welcome to attend.

The project, initiated through a recent Creative Estuary Ideas Lab, will investigate how public areas can be turned into play spaces that foster connection and build confidence combining university research expertise with creative practice, community and fun.

The first play and wellbeing workshop will take place at the Enchanted Garden in the St Botolph’s Churchyard in Northfleet. Local residents can warm up with fairground games in the churchyard before delving into the workshop with professional theatre makers – fun hats and props included.

This initiative addresses the increased risk of social isolation in the wake of the pandemic by creating a fun space for people to connect. The play workshop also provides resources to deal with the pressures faced on social media; the primary social contact for many during the pandemic.

Dr Dieter Declercq, Lecturer in Film and Media Studies and expert in media and mental health, developed the theoretical framework to evaluate the project. He said: ‘This is a unique project that has been developed in collaboration with community partners and creative professionals responding to a need for creating spaces where people can meaningfully connect post-pandemic.’

Dr Ambrose Gillick, Lecturer in Architecture, has developed a purpose-built structure in Northfleet’s Enchanted Garden to create a safe space where people feel comfortable to participate in play workshops. He said: It’s important for academics to get out into communities, to learn from local organisations, activists and professionals, and to support work that strengthens communities and empowers people.”

The workshops are designed and delivered by Gravesend actor and writer Lauren Mills and theatre and filmmaker Dylan Tate.

The event has been developed with community partner Northfleet Big Local; a group of residents who have developed an ambitious programme to stimulate community activity in Northfleet North.

This project has been developed following a series of Ideas Labs, new opportunities to encourage collaborative thinking and designed to make the most of the talent and expertise found across our region. The University of Essex and University of Kent have designed and facilitated a series of events bringing together a diverse group of academics, artists, technologists, businesses and cultural professionals to form project groups to explore culture-led solutions to contemporary issues we face across the Estuary.

Ideas Labs, initiated by Creative Estuary, aim to stimulate new and innovative ideas. We will draw on the expertise of our university partners, entrepreneurs and creative experts to ensure our region grows as one of the most forward-thinking and innovative production hubs in the world. Bringing together academics, technologists, businesses and cultural professionals, our network of innovation leaders will share knowledge and explore culture-led solutions to contemporary issues across the Estuary.