story ● 27 Mar 2024

Session One: Making a participatory film with young people in Scarborough

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This process began with us travelling to Scarborough to visit an organisation which provides support and volunteering opportunities to young people.

Over the next weeks we will work with a group of young people to explore their views and feelings about Scarborough. As a result of this collaboration, part of the research project “Youth Geographies of Inequality”, University of York, we will produce a participatory film led by the young people.

This first session gave us the opportunity to introduce the project and start exploring how the young people felt about their hometown.

Picking images

We started our work together by browsing black and white images of Scarborough from a variety of sources. Simona invited the young people to pick an image they found particularly striking. Each young person chose an image, including a view of the North Bay, one of the Grand Hotel, a photo of a local cemetery, and a view of Scarborough Castle.

Discussing the choice of images revealed several thoughts and feelings about them: young people commented on how some of Scarborough’s landmarks should be better preserved and presented, how some of their favourite places are connected to nature, and how cemeteries can be places of peace and contemplation. An adult Mentor at the organisation supported the discussion and provided some contextual information on the development of Scarborough over the years and its history.

Colouring Scarborough

During the second part of the session the young people used paint to bring colour to the images they chose.

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While colouring, we kept discussing life in Scarborough. Some of the young people said they do not like to live in Scarborough and feel like there is not enough for local people. They also commented on the seasonal contrast between the summer period, which can be extremely busy with tourists, and the winter, where the town becomes empty and quiet. Some young people prefer winter as they find it less crowded and overwhelming. However, the peacefulness comes with fewer job opportunities as many businesses in Scarborough close during winter.

Young people discussed their ideal living conditions: some would love to move to big cities like London, while others would prefer to live in the countryside but closer to a well-connected city.

During the last part of the session, the young people chose a second image to connect to their first choice in order to create possible stories. They imagined stories of mystery, loss, and some more light-hearted plots which could have Scarborough’s key places as a backdrop.

While these ideas might not necessarily become part of our film, the activities gave us an opportunity to start visually exploring Scarborough. In the next session, we will watch some youth-led short films about cities and start mapping a possible route of meaningful places around Scarborough.

Follow the project @youthgeography