University of Cambridge Museums

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Romsey Mill Young Mum’s Arts Award

The Romsey Mill Young Mums with their baby portrait paintings having just passed their Bronze Arts Award moderation. Left to Right Estelle, Jay, Maggie, Jo, Lizzie, Olivia and Lucy

The Romsey Mill Young Mums with their baby portrait paintings having just passed their Bronze Arts Award moderation. Left to Right Estelle, Jay, Maggie, Jo, Lizzie, Olivia and Lucy

The Fitzwilliam Museum has been working with the Young Mums group at Romsey Mill since 2012 supporting participants to achieve an Arts Award (a nationally recognised qualification).

The programme follows a set of 10 weekly 2 hour sessions with a cohort of 16 – 24 year old women with babies, toddlers or who are pregnant. They are supported at the Romsey Mill as part of the young parents youth programme which offers personal guidance, parent skills, a supportive social network and qualifications towards future courses or work opportunities. Specifically this includes numeracy and literacy booster courses. The Arts Award is embedded as part of this programme offer.

The Arts Award sessions offer the group of young women an opportunity to engage with the arts, and the cultural offer at the University of Cambridge Museums and to (in one young woman words) “Rekindle a passion for arts and creative activities”.

The Arts Award programme consists of sessions at the Romsey Mill as well as visits to a number of the University of Cambridge Museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Polar Museum. Participants are given the opportunity to tour the museum galleries, review exhibitions and undertake research, as well as practical activities including drawing from the collections, painting and making felt toys.

At the start of the programme each young woman is given their own sketchbook and set of drawing materials in an A4 wallet. This initial sense of ownership is important as it gives the young women something that is about them that can be private and personal, something distinct from their new roles as young mums.

The first session introduced the idea of confirming with a positive affirmation their experience of each session as well as thinking about what they wanted to get from their Arts Award Course. Responses include getting a qualification, meeting new people, getting out to a regular class and finding the confidence to leave their young babies with others or having time away from them. Examples below.

 “I enjoyed looking at the history of how children’s lifestyle has changed” (after a visit to MAA)

“Had a good time looking around the Fitzwilliam museum and learning interesting things about the Egyptians”

To make some new friends at the group”

“Today I liked doing printing because of how well the print came out and how well the details of the objects came out on the paper”

“I enjoyed making the mittens and penguins, it was fun learning a new way to stitching” Lucy

“To get used to be away from Florence (her young baby)”

“I learnt a lot about the Arctic and Antarctic” (after a visit to the Polar Museum)

“Become more confident in arts and with arts materials”

“Saw the museum and learnt about things on the inside”

The group also took time to identify a dream or aspiration and reflected on anything that might be an obstacle to achieving this. At the end of the Arts Award programme they talked about how the Arts Award has supported them in breaking down these obstacles.

“The Arts Award has let me try new things that have given me confidence”

“Helped me get confidence to leave my child”

“Getting out of the house and walking quite far to get to and from the Arts Award”

“The arts award has helped me be more confident and more relaxed”

“This course has helped me reach my dream as I am not so nervous and I’ve made lots of new friends”

“This course hasn’t realised my dream however, it has rekindled my passion  for art and creativity that I put off while pregnant. It has started me running in the right direction So one day I will get there”

We are delighted that all of the young women successfully achieved their Bronze Arts Award.

Sarah-Cate Blake, Education Officer, Fitzwilliam Museum

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