Bridge + Tunnel productions led a project working with young people with little previous experience of exploring heritage in a meaningful way. Drawing on heritage linked to the criminal justice system, they helped young people connect to the past and create positive stories for the future.
Crime & Punishment involved 30 young people aged 14-25 who were at risk of offending or had experience of offending either personally or through a family member. They were supported by NACRO, a social justice charity, and the Space 2 Youth Centre. Heritage input came from Tyne and Wear Archive and Museums (TWAM) and Durham University.
Participants visited historic sites, including former prisons, and explored library collections, archives and online resources to understand how social justice had evolved through the centuries. Creating their own digital stories about the past, the young people explored notions of social justice, crime and punishment.
It was really engaging to go to the archive as a group, share what we were experiencing, our thoughts about it, and create a story based on our image selection.
The project helped a wider range of people to engage with heritage using a combination of creative activities and digital tools.
They learned about the changing nature of incarceration, and the significance of prison architecture, through ‘back-to-history’ tours of sites such as Durham Gaol.
Connecting with their local area, they took part in archival research for the first time and explored the impact of social justice on prisoners' rights, incarceration rates, and financial and racial inequality.
Through hands-on training, the young people developed skills in using digital media, research, project management and creative writing.