The Swift Project was a bespoke digital and business skills training programme that supported women in rural areas of East Sussex to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence they needed to use superfast broadband to expand or set-up new businesses.
Since October 2014, the project, which was funded by the Government Equalities Office and run in partnership with East Sussex County Council, Sound Architect Creative Media and MDHUB has supported 80 women with training, peer to peer sessions and mentoring. The project specifically targeted women who were serious about developing their business idea or who were already in business and were committed to investing their time to attending a programme of development. Consisting of modular and flexible training sessions which focused on delivering IT and business/personal development training, the free part time courses included: social media, web/graphic design, writing a business plan, marketing, finance, time management, presentation skills, and selling on-line. Alongside the training participants also attended regular peer to peer groups to share knowledge and experience with the support of a business mentor.
Here’s what some of the participants said about taking part in the Swift Project:
“I have found a reignited passion for learning and a new determination to make my business a success. I cannot describe the impact this course has had on my life and the unlimited enthusiasm the tutors have had for each and every participant’s business is inspirational. I will always acknowledge the fact that being part of the Swift Project has made me a braver, stronger and more confident person who had a ‘good idea’ and with help from the course is going to turn it into a ‘great business’.”
“The courses that we have participated in have provided an opportunity to take a step back, view our business from the outside, and most crucially benefit from other women who are also struggling with many of the same challenges that we are, who have been willing to give us their views in a very honest, supportive and non-judgemental way. The combination of peer support and courses led by experts in their fields has not only enabled us to learn new digital skills, which will help us manage our business day to day as well as promote it more effectively, but also helped us to see where and how we could focus our business aims to expand in the most suitable direction for us.”
No qualifications or experience were required to join the programme, just a desire to learn, develop, and improve digital and business skills in an environment that supports women’s specific needs.
Twelve and Sixpence
The First World War years: 1914 to 1918 saw a great many changes in the world, and the children from year 5 from Manor Primary School,Uckfield, undertook a special Heritage Lottery Funded project to find out what life was like for people in Britain while so many men were away at War. The project, researched the lives, memories and stories of women, children and families that remained behind whilst their fathers went to War. The project detailed the hardships, class differences/struggles, poverty, employment, social and political impacts and the many sacrifices that were made. It also examined the effect returning soldiers had on those who remained at home. ‘Separation Allowance’ was paid to all married soldiers, their children and also any adults who could prove that they were dependent on the soldier prior to his enlistment. This allowance was increased in March 1915 and again in July of the same year to twelve shillings and sixpence.
How did they live? What did they eat? What did they do? These 9 and 10 year olds immersed themselves in a world without mobile phones, without the internet, without electricity even, where food, money and even warmth were scarce, where teachers were strict and children often had to work after school just to help the family stay alive. They walked in the footsteps of those people, imagining their hardships, their joys, their woes. The children learned respect for those brave women, men and children who fought their own war, here on the Home Front and their findings from the project were exhibited in both the Redoubt Museum, Eastbourne and the Bridge Museum in Uckfield.
Women were not permitted into some professions and most married women were not allowed to work at all, plus, no woman could vote. Yet in this time, before Britain joined the War, Margaret Damer Dawson founded the Women’s Police Service. The children in Year 3 of St Paul’s Primary School in Brighton: those who are 7 and 8, undertook a special project to explore how women came to join the Women’s Police Service, and all about Margaret Damer Dawson, who was actually born in Hove.
They looked at the life of this extraordinary pioneer, and also the other women whose spirit changed history, and paved the way for women to be accepted in the Police Force today.
In 2015, Sound Architect was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant to research the incredible story of Britain’s first female racing car driver, Dorothy Levitt, with local school Helenswood Academy.
Little was known of Dorothy Levitt’s life and career, but her many successes as a female motor competitor, journalist and speedboat racer made her an inspiring individual to uncover. A trailblazing example of female independence Dorothy Levitt was breaking records and social barriers whilst suffragettes struggled to establish women as first class citizens. Born in 1882, she established the record for the longest drive achieved by a lady driver and held both the Water Speed and Ladies World Land Speed Records; all the while showing women to be as dexterous with a spanner as with a lipstick.
The students researched Dorothy’s career, hearing of her 1907 race along the seafront of Britain’s very own Home of Racing – Bexhill and read extracts from her diary and car manual The Woman and The Car. The students were trained in interviewing and document research techniques and worked with both Bexhill Museum and Bexhill 100 Motoring Club to find out about their local heritage. They visited Filching Manor Motor Museum, interviewed a female racing driver, and conducted guided research. The project culminated in a short film of the Helenswood students, featuring dramatizations of their research, which was screened alongside an exhibition of the material and evidence collected.
Funded by the European Union’s Social Fund, and the Skills Funding Agency with support from Surrey Community Action, Sound Architect ran a series of sessions for people aged 50+. The Wealden Tech Club provided courses at various venues over the 2014/15 winter months which included an Introduction to IT, tablet basics and beyond, how to get the most out of your Ipad, and an introduction to Skype. In all, just under 100 people learned new skills, which enabled them to have confidence in using modern technology in a safe way to research employment and volunteering opportunities.
This project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund under their First World War – Then and Now programme researched and recorded the history of conscientious objectors (CO’s) from Sussex and recognised the dedication and courage of all those who lived and fought during the War and acknowledged the reasoning, punishment and impact on those who exercised the ‘right to refuse’. A large number of those recorded as refusing the call to fight did so on religious grounds, and many CO’s still carried out work of national importance such as farming, and some were sent to the Front as stretcher bearers. Refusing to fight might have been a stigma to friends or family, but some of these men had very important non combatant roles.
Students from Newlands School in Seaford and local volunteers, investigated archives, diaries and other historical papers to explore the history, impact and treatment of conscientious objectors and the alternative roles they played during the War.
The secret tunnels of South Heighton
Denton Community School was awarded a Sharing Heritage grant of nearly £10,000 to help a new generation discover the mystery surrounding HMS Forward which surprisingly, was not a ship, but a top secret WWII Royal Naval Headquarters situated in an underground complex, deep beneath South Heighton in Newhaven. Involving local residents, Newhaven Historical Society, Friends of HMS Forward and children in research and interviews has provided an invaluable record of the part this little known site played in WWII.
Masks and Puppets
Using masks and music to create drama and fiction is a way of helping people to understand themselves in new ways and enable a change to one’s mental state. Funded by Lankelly Chase, this project used masks and puppets in a series of workshops with a group of patients at a secure mental health unit providing therapy sessions to aid their recovery. The participants took great pleasure in making a mask which in itself was a very rewarding experience. Then, using the masks along with music, different personas were embodied which lead to personal change that can be associated with a positive and safe experience.
Participants who said that they were not in a good mood or felt depressed, quickly forget about this and smiled and laughed during the activities creating a mood of happiness and enjoyable social engagement. On top of this participants were able to discuss emotions freely embedding confidence and self-esteem in thoughts and feelings. The project culminated in a short drama and film of their created work.To hear what some of the participants said, please click here
“I’ve been told by several of the participants how much they valued the activity and their enthusiasm was remarkable. I attended the final rehearsal and everyone was, of course, a bit nervous; but the facilitators, Dee and Keith were so unruffled that they created a relaxed space and we ended up just having fun. Then, on the day, the warmth, support and encouragement from the audience was really quite moving and uplifting. The performance and the response it elicited gave me a real sense of community and belonging and it has certainly motivated other patients to request that they attend the Puppet and Mask group.”
Senior Occupational Therapist
175 volunteers from across East Sussex took part in this project, supported by the Heritage Lottery fund, either by sharing their memories about Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, Silver, Golden or Diamond Jubilees or by helping with research and/or interviewing people. Stories about bonfires and beacons, community events and celebrations from processions, fetes and concerts to a soap box derby and even a telephone box library dedicated to the Diamond Jubilee were recorded and transcribed. It also documented and recorded the social changes experienced through the 60 years of the Queen’s reign from 1953 including customs, everyday habits, fashion, food, technology, celebratory games, work, political climate, community spirit, relations with the Commonwealth, migration, and ethnicity to name but a few.
The People of East Sussex celebrated in typical English eccentric style as well as in more formal and serious ways and this research was used to produce a film and booklet that were shown at the Birley Centre, Eastbourne on Friday 5th September 2014. All the material gathered during the course of the project will be held for posterity by the Mass Observation Unit at the Keep for others to access long into the future.
To see a copy of the project booklet, please click here
To view an excerpt from the film, please click here
The town that didn’t stare
During World War II, hundreds of severely burned aircrew were treated at the Queen Victoria hospital in East Grinstead after a pioneering surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe, established a special burns unit there. McIndoe was a brilliant surgeon who not only developed new techniques for treating badly turned faces and hands, but also recognised the importance of reintgrating his patients back into normal life. In 1941 he formed a drinking club for the injured airmen affectionately name “The Guinea Pig Club”, because of the experimental surgery the men had undergone. The Club became a support mechanism for the 649 Guinea Pigs and those that remain continue to meet to this day. He also encouraged the locals to welcome the casualties and despite many of them being horriby disfigured, the townspeople would go out of their way to make them feel normal and East Grinstead became known as the Town that didn’t stare.
This project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund with help from charity, Sound Architect, involved students from Baldwins Hill and Halsford Park Primary Schools who worked with experts and adult volunteers to gather real life stories about Sir Archibald McIndoe and the important role that the townspeople played in deciding not to stare. As part of their learning journey, the students helped to produce a booklet, visited East Grinstead Museum and the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation, held a question and answer session with a former burns patient and even welcomed Princess Anne to the town when she unveiled a statue in Sir Archibald McIndoe’s honour on 9th June 2014. The real life stories gathered during the course of the project are held at East Grinstead Museum thereby contributing to the historical archive of the town.
Diana Rowden, World War 2 SOE Agent
St Marks CE Primary School was awarded a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund Sharing Heritage grant to help uncover the mystery surrounding the work of secret agents behind enemy lines during World War II. Whilst researching the concept as a whole, they concentrated on the role of women agents and specifically Diana Rowden who in her youth had links with Hadlow Down.
To see an excerpt from the film, please click here
To read the project booklet, please click here
This project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, uncovered some of the mysteries surrounding the Aspidistra aerial which was a British radio transmitter used for black propaganda and military deception purposes against Nazi Germany during WWII. Over the course of several months, children from Bonners School, Maresfield, local residents and historical societies, researched, investigated and, courtesy of Sussex Police, visited the restricted site at Kings Standing on Ashdown Forest to get an understanding of what happened there during the war.
Their journey took them to the Mass Observation Archive at Sussex University to gain an understanding of the role of propaganda in the war, where they also read excerpts from war time diaries of people who lived in Sussex, and learned about what life was like at the time. They had a tutorial from a member of the Mid Sussex Amateur Radio Society to gain an understanding of how radio waves operate and met with individuals who worked on the site. They also learned how to carry out effective research, how to conduct an interview and then they made and acted in their very own film!
To see an excerpt from the film, please click here
Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices
Featuring on BBC TV’s Inside Out programme, Women’s Lives, Women’s voices was an intergenerational oral history project focusing on the lives of women who lived in Eastbourne and East Sussex during the period 1947 – 1957 and the changes many women had to make to their lives in post war Britain after WW2: attitudes, working, restrictions, living in the town of Eastbourne as it was rebuilt after the bombing.
It also explored the impact of Dr John Bodkin Adams, the general practitioner, who served the (mainly wealthy women) residents of Eastbourne and whether he was responsible for the untimely death of up to 160 of his patients.
Students from Eastbourne College and Moira House school worked as volunteer researchers and oral history interviewers on the project as well as many volunteers from the community.
The film and the accompanying booklet were premiered at the Birley Centre in Eastbourne on 28 June 2013 together with an exhibition which told the story of the project and displayed the students’ scrap books. The display and the film were subsequently moved to the Redoubt Fortress Museum and Eastbourne Library for public view.
Chalk to Mouse
This heritage project was the story of a handful of Sussex church schools and the impact of the National Society on children, teaching practices and communities over 200 years. It enabled 5 schools to investigate their own school history and development from when their school began.
With the help of local volunteers, children from these participating schools read entries from old school log books, interviewed former pupils, teachers, head teachers, clergymen and other interested parties at an open day, dressed up for a Victorian day and experienced Victorian school lessons.
The results of this project included a film which includes re-enactments of scenes from these school histories, and which records the history of the National Society and its role in the establishment of church schools.
To download a copy of the Chalk to Mouse booklet, please click here.
To view an excerpt from the film, please click here
Buxted Community Together
Funded by Awards for All, this project addressed issues of community cohesion by bringing together residents of all ages from Buxted to research the need for, and possible uses of, a proposed new community hall.
It was hoped that by involving everyone, the plans for the hall would meet the needs of all villagers and provide a centre of contact, education and learning, volunteering and increased sporting opportunities. The feeling of achievement and confidence this project brought also spurred the community to tackle other problems within the village such as minor vandalism, littering and anti-social behaviour.
The resulting docu/drama film involved as many people as possible including local school children who asked interviewees how they would like to see the new hall being used, why they thought it is necessary and the positive/negative effects on the community. Volunteers were recruited to help with research, costume making, music and scenery making and inter-generational sharing of skills was encouraged with villagers having better access to the school’s ICT suite to exchange hints and tips with students. There was also be a competition to design the logo for the project and a cover for the DVD.
Communities Through Computers – Kent Surfing @ 50+
Funding has been obtained through Surrey Community Action and the European Social Fund (ESF) to facilitate three basic IT courses for those aged 50 and over in rural East Sussex. The aim is to reduce isolation by enabling people to keep in touch with what is going on around them, be it ordering their weekly food shop online or emailing and SKYPING their friends and relatives.
The three courses run so far have all been well attended and the next course planned starts on 22nd October 2012 in Nutley, East Sussex. For further information please click here
Hitting Home Project 2009-2011
“Hitting Home” funded by Lankelly Chase was a creative project dealing with issues of domestic abuse. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of domestic violence; abusive relationships and broader related issues relevant to young people aged 12-16. The outcome is the affirmation that young people have the right to feel safe and signposts them to sources of support for victims, witnesses and perpetrators of abuse.
Hitting Home took two years to complete and was created in partnership with a number of local organisations including Ringmer Community College, Uckfield Community College and East Sussex Youth Development Service.
Stone Age Adventures
Sound Architect joined forces with Life Wisdoms in the production of Stone Age Adventures. The year long project involved children from two local primary schools who researched the Stone Age, spent many sessions in woodlands learning how to track, identify trees, light fires using wood and flint and took part in a master class in Stone Age crafts with the renowned Will Lord.
In addition the schools visited Brighton Museum to look at Stone Age artefacts and had several tutorials with Senior Research Fellow from UCL, Dr Matthew Pope. They learnt about human evolution and hunter gatherer cultures.
Sound Architect assisted with the production of a DVD of the children’s adventure which was shown for the first time to both the children and their families on Sunday 17th July 2011 when a Stone Age Celebration Day took place in Wilderness Woods at Hadlow Down.
The Forgotten Army
It was not until 2008 that members of the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps received official recognition for their unique contribution to the war effort. Without their hard work an embattled country would have faced starvation. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, this project sought to record this essential and inspiring part of our heritage through the memories of former Land Girls who were billeted in Kent and Sussex during the Second World War and who still live in these counties today. The film features interviews with these former Land Girls and their stories are re-enacted by students from Cobham Hall School, Kent and Robertsbridge Community College, East Sussex.
Pier & Promenades
Pier & Promenades was a heritage research and arts project working with Moira House School in Eastbourne. The 12 month project culminated in a multimedia production, comprising film and live performances, recalling the development of Eastbourne as a holiday resort. The project was a journey through time from the mid 1800s, to the late 1930s and performances were held at the Grand Hotel and Moira House. Young people were trained in various skills such as: interview techniques, researching and documentation, photography, drama and exhibition skills.
Communities Through Computers
Run in both Southborough and Tunbridge Wells, this particular project did not take the usual format of usual IT courses. It began initially with a full day’s session for a period of three weeks. There was then a two month break before a further two full day sessions took place. Another two month break followed before all were invited to attend a one day consolidation day with a final consolidation day taking place one month after that.
It was felt that spreading out the training sessions in this way would enable the learners to practice their new found skills, to address any problems they encountered in the interim, and to then consolidate a few months later.
This project has provided people aged 50 and over with the opportunity of communicating with others both socially at the course venue and outside via their home computers. The participants all learnt about emails, SKYPE and how to use the internet safely including shopping online. As one participant stated “I am not afraid to have a go now!”
Nominet Trust Computer Course
Sound Architect received funding from Nominet Trust as part of the Government’s Online initiative for the teaching of over 50’s in basic computer skills. The 12 week course was held at The Royal British Legion in Bexhill and was full within a few days.
The participants were taught how to keep in touch with the younger members of their families and how to use the internet in a safe and easy way as well as the basic computer skills.
In addition, a Government led campaign during the week beginning 31 October 2011 was aimed at encouraging people to get online. It asked people to give an hour or spend an hour and involved a Sound Architect facilitator being on hand for an hour every day during that week to show anybody who attended the basics on how to use a computer. It was a very successful week and our facilitator not only demonstrated computer skills but enjoyed having lunch with visitors as well!
All about me
Working with Saxon Mount Special School, All about me investigates the likes and dislikes of the students whilst they learnt filmmaking and recording skills.
What is animation
A docu drama filmed by students at Rye Community College, which records the story of a sporty teenager who is spotted by a football scout and offered the opportunity to train with a professional team. Unfortunately that night he was discovered taking drugs and drink and consequently failed the medical to get into the squad.
When push comes to shove
A film about how older people and younger people engage together from both an older person’s view point and a teenager’s point of view.