3 August 2021

Students and staff from Dundee University Students’ Association (DUSA) have been volunteering at the Family Art Club – an outdoor based project supported by the National Lottery involving families and children in creative and environmental improvement activities.

The project follows successful sessions last year in different green spaces across Dundee during which families made artworks using natural materials and tried their hand at bulb planting and tree measuring.

The project is managed by DUSA and includes partnerships with creative recycling organisation Scrap Antics CIC and Dundee City Council’s Countryside Ranger Service.

Free workshops for up to 40 families over a 40-week period are taking place within community gardens, green spaces, beach and woodland settings. A group of families are helping to plan and promote the activities, as well as sharing aspects of their own culture to help with wider understanding.

Joining with Dundonians are families recently arrived from the conflict in Syria. Families from other countries now living in Dundee are also involved with the aim of building relationships as we move forward from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Neil Crutchley, Community Engagement Worker with the Countryside Ranger Service, has been helping to organise activities with families. He said,

“The pandemic has been such a challenging time for so many people. From the outdoor sessions last year we discovered a real need for people to socialise safely, share experiences and learn creative skills together. The ideas of families have informed this longer-term project and it has been inspiring to see their enthusiasm and the quality of artwork already made. We look forward to including more families and getting involved in activities to help the environment.’’

Families will be using photography to keep a record of activities with some of the pictures to be exhibited as part of this year’s online Dundee Flower and Food Festival between 3rd and 5th September. A second exhibition will take place in June 2022 during the Refugee Festival Scotland.

Other environmental improvement activities include getting involved in a community clean up, making homes for wildlife such as bird boxes and bug hotels, planting wildflowers, bulbs and vegetables and taking part in national surveys to monitor wildlife. Families will be able to work towards John Muir Award accreditation and to connect with local projects like the Maxwell Centre Garden to learn more about the importance of biodiversity.

Student and staff volunteers through DUSA are joining with others from Dundee and Syria to assist with planning different activities during the project.

Kellie Ioannou, Societies Officer at DUSA said,

‘‘Staff and students from DUSA who have been involved in the Family Art Club have found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience.  Working within the community has allowed us to not only offer these fantastic families the opportunity to express themselves through a visual means but has also given us the opportunity to learn so much about different cultures – they truly are inspirational.’’

The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still added,

“In these unprecedented times, it’s heartening to see the way Scottish communities are coming together to provide each other with support. I would like to congratulate Dundee University Students’ Association and Family Art Club on their award which is testament to the incredible efforts of their staff and volunteers. National Lottery players can be proud to know that the money they raise is making such a difference.”

 

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