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Youth Programme

Since 2013 The Hepworth Wakefield has run an Integrated Youth Programme, with weekly creative drop-in sessions - known as Art Social - for young people aged 16-25 in Wakefield District who are not in education, employment or training. The art-based workshops support participants to develop employability and life skills, so they are able to fulfil their potential and find pathways back into education or employment.

Art Social

Art Social participants are referred to the programme by an agency, organisation or individual via our Youth Programme Coordinator. We work closely with external agencies such as St George’s, Wakefield Job Centre and The Prince’s Trust to ensure we can deliver holistic support to all those on the programme.

Once referred and processed, young people can drop in to the weekly informal sessions to take part in a range of art practices such as animation, photography and printmaking led by local artists in a safe and supported environment.

The sessions aim to build soft core skills focusing on; resilience, communication, confidence and self-esteem.

Many participants have found the 1:1 support and group work extremely valuable. Their progress and self-development through the sessions have enabled them to find paid employment, volunteer opportunities within the arts and have returned to education.

Extended Youth Programme

Young people who take part in the Art Social drop-in sessions can also be involved in further opportunities at The Hepworth Wakefield. Our Integrated Youth Programme, funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, offers participants short creative courses, working on extended skill development through arts activity led by local artists. Young people have the opportunity to specialise and achieve an arts award qualification – several have already achieved their Bronze Art Award.

“Taking part in this course helped me to play with my own basic camera at home, after the course, when I got mad or frustrated, I started taking my camera out and walking. It was like I forgot why I had even left the house other than taking photos. I even took photos at my sister’s wedding and I don’t think people would have let me do this and I don’t think I would have felt like I could, before I did the photography course.” – Participant

With mentoring from our artists, the group have completed some short term projects such as preparing and delivering activities for our Summer Fair and workshops in our family learning programme. During the extended courses, young people also learn about artist careers, visit other local arts organisations and explore wellbeing through the arts.

Many of the youth participants benefit from 1:1 support whilst they explore career pathways and personal development. Our programme offers the rare opportunity to be mentored by a specialised artist in a studio environment. Over three months, young people are supported to access a studio at The Art House in Wakefield. They use this time to discover their arts practice, develop key employability skills and achieve a qualification. They also have the opportunity to exhibit their work during Art Walk Wakefield, explaining their motivations for their creative process.

Before the studio I couldn’t have held down a job because the residency supported me to get myself up independently, travel and be on time. If I didn’t do this, I would just miss studio time and it became important that I used my time better.

Me leaving the house every day to do something productive also helped the people around me to trust me. They believed I could be using my time positively which they didn’t previously think.

Having a purpose and learning something new helped me to realise that I could be reliable and working with adults who believed in me helped me to believe in myself.

The residency has changed my world really, when I first started, I wasn’t able to attend any support for long periods of time, my mental health was low, and I was dangerous to myself. After spending time in art social and working 1:1 with people at the Hepworth I started changing and learning about myself. I worked with other support but that was the same as it always was, it was really through learning about myself in the studio when I stopped spiralling and started making changes. – Young Person

How to get involved

If you think you could benefit from joining our Art Social programme, or know someone who might please get in touch with our Youth Coordinator, Sarah for more information – learning@hepworthwakefield.org

If you would like to help The Hepworth Wakefield (registered charity no. 1138117) continue to deliver Art Social please consider making a donation. Your support, no matter the size, will make a vital contribution to helping young people in Wakefield fulfil their potential.

Donate now via PayPal


Gallery of art work completed by participants during lockdown.

Join our artists in creative projects you can try at home