Men's Mapping Project
Our Men’s Mapping project was an exciting multi-disciplinary partnership project between Zest, Feel Good Factor, and Space2 to tackle isolation, bring men together, and get our local men exploring and mapping their communities. Through this we aimed to seek out the assets, opportunities and unique elements of each area. It looked to empower the men involved and, as always, place East Leeds and beyond on the map!
The project consisted of four weekly men’s groups spanning Seacroft, Gipton, Meanwood and Chapeltown. Despite not having the ability to meet in person, the project swiftly adapted: the men connected in new and exciting ways, chatting and laughing over Zoom, unlocking nostalgia through sending postcards to each other and celebrating Christmas online.
Even with new ways of communicating, our Men’s group still managed to get involved in creative work, including our very own bench in the heart of Harehills at Nowell Mount Park! We successfully secured this from the Civic Trust. This will be co-designed to reflect the very real experiences of the pandemic. It will enable the men’s project to have a long-lasting legacy, shared, celebrated and seen by all of us.
Vouching for the transformative nature of this social connection, one of our men says:
'I have more than doubled my friendship circle and am busier now than before lockdown, I couldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it, would not even try if it wasn’t for the support I receive online, on phone and in person from Lawrence and the rest of the team'.
Alongside our bench we’ve also created a book that celebrates all four men's groups in partnership with local artists Kevin Hickson, Claire Irving and Tony Stephenson. This stunning book captures the men's communities past and present, their favourite recipes, places they like to go, and postcards that were shared throughout the pandemic.
You can take a look at the full book here.
Adding another layer to this project, artist and photographer Kevin Hickson has captured the lush greenery and urban landscape of our Men’s areas. Kevin was really able to capture the beauty and unique landscape in East and North East Leeds, which were then delivered to our men to keep.
Natalie Davies, project manager, explained that ‘as it did for everyone, the pandemic posed a great challenge to the men's wellbeing and the project, but we quickly changed direction and continuously adapted to keep each other smiling; an immense amount of work was done to stay connected and to create these beautiful tangible things'.
Despite the social restrictions, our men have managed to stay connected and produce some creative, inspiring and thought-provoking work. We’d like to say a huge thank you to the funders, artists and staff who made this possible and of course to our participants. During a time of isolation, the community have pulled together to remain as connected and as together as possible, and we’re looking forward to seeing more multi-disciplinary community projects like this in the future.