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The reason we exist is to foster social inclusion, greater community engagement and a real alternative of meaningful employment/volunteering as a choice for those that are often relegated to the realm of ‘being kept busy with creative activities’. People inherently want to belong, be valued and be recognised as contributing to their community. For this reason it is important to allow people access to a safe space where they can take those first tentative steps.
In October 2014, Hands Across Canberra provided Paperworks with a grant to establish a new project in collaboration with our partner, the Ted Noffs Foundation. This grant allowed us to assist young people to reconnect with their families. It is also extremely important for young people to connect with the wider community around them as part of their recovery.
Eight to ten young people are enrolled for three months into the Ted Noffs Foundation Program for Adolescent Life Management (PALM), with around 110 participants assisted each year. Papermaking is by nature a slow creative process and as you wait for water to drain from the mold before you can couch (place) the newly formed wet sheet onto a cloth, your mind wanders. Before you know it, you have been caught up in a creative and meditative process. As much as we wanted the young people to have fun, make beautiful paper and write to their families, we also wanted them to continue thinking about the small group discussions they have had before entering our studio. Hence the Paper Bridges project structure of having a counselling session followed by the papermaking session.
Paperworks was the first ACT charity to benefit from the emerging relationship between The Funding Network and Hands Across Canberra.