Why creativity matters Stories of creativity The People's Report Created in Folkestone, Kent, ‘The People's Report’ aimed to generate a document and protest song that asked the question 'How can we rise from the pandemic a more inclusive and less lonely society?' One of a number of micro-commissions funded by Creative Lives through our Get Creative strand, the Report was developed and delivered by composer and performer, Anna Braithwaite and supported by drama and music practitioner Sadie Hurley at Touchbase Care throughout April and May 2021. Who was involved in the project - and why? Touchbase Care is a community group with an innovative, holistic and creative approach to supporting adults and young people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties, neuro-diversity and sensory impairment. Many members of Touchbase had noticed a general decline in support services and had experienced the isolation of the pandemic. At the same time, Folkestone Town Council had employed ‘We Made That’, an architecture and urbanism practice, to research redevelopment of the town and high street, to address the visible economic impact of closed shops. The project aimed to reduce isolation, not only for the members taking part together, but also by producing a blueprint addressing the long-term loneliness and isolation felt by adults with disabilities, who are unable to access their town’s high street. So the process included interviews with members of Touchbase Care, creative workshops (research, songwriting and recording) and involvement of the group in Folkestone Town Council’s ‘Place Plan’ webinar. ‘The People's Report’ aimed to generate a document and accompanying protest song to ask - How can we rise from the pandemic a more inclusive and less lonely society? The process included interviews (members of Touchbase Care), five weeks of creative workshops (research, songwriting and recording), involvement of the group in Folkestone Town Council’s ‘Place Plan’ webinar. What happened? Sadie and Anna began by interviewing members of Touchbase Care face-to-face or online, which they recorded and transcribed verbatim. “I wanted to capture a moment in time and verbatim does this really well," explains Anna. "How can we tell how far we have come if we don’t know where we started? "People tend to say much more poetic and interesting things than I could ever come up with lyrics-wise when quoted directly. The patterns of speech are much easier to understand when sung than lyrics or poetry, and I like that directness.” The creative workshops took place over five weeks at Touchbase Care studios and online. During this time, ideas were collected, conversations were had and a collaborative song emerged. Sessions were relaxed, safe and secure. A non-judgemental environment was created to enable all members to discuss their views openly, with everyone welcome to participate to whatever level felt comfortable. The final lyrics were a summing up of ideas and experiences of the whole group using verbatim research. Recording happened online and at Touchbase Care studios, with microphones and temporary singing booths. Touchbase Care’s Covid safety measures were already well-established, including member’s bubbles, testing and sanitisation, so all this was carried out safely. Participation in the project varied widely - but everybody's input was welcome and appreciated. “Some attended every session for six weeks, came up with content and took part in the recording," says Anna. "Some only took part in an interview or shot film footage for a few hours. One lady arrived after the project finished but read the credits, another came up with the name of the song on Facebook after seeing the film but hadn’t been to any sessions. One lady's first interaction with the project was to help deliver the report to Councillor Laura Davison. Somehow though, it all worked.” Outcomes Members were able to connect with each other throughout (face-to-face and online), and a dialogue was started between Folkestone Town Centre Working Group and Touchbase Care members. This has enabled members to feel more visible and listened to. Connecting those unable to attend the centre to the centre online supported all members to come together. Flexible participation supported participants to be heard and included at any stage in the endeavour, beyond the confines of familiar spaces. The People's Report document and songs (Inside Out and Where the Shirt Shop Was) have been presented to Councillor Laura Davison and the Town Council, and the relationship between Touchbase Care and the Folkestone Town Centre Working Group continues. “One participant absorbed the research part of the project and then went off and wrote a song on their own," says Anna. "And I hope that way of writing (carrying out research then writing lyrics) may influence her future songwriting in a positive way.” Members of Touchbase Care will perform their song at Strange Cargo's Cheriton Light festival, and an artist selected for the 2021 Folkestone Triennial is interested in using this research for their artwork. [Image: Two members of Touch Base Care delivering The People's Report to Councillor Laura Davison.] To discover the rest of the Get Creative and Make a Difference projects in England, read our interactive digital publication via ISSUU.