Life Through My Lens

Have you ever wondered what children and young people see when they look at their surroundings?

Life Through My Lens Project 

Race, culture, ethnicity, and faith/belief are a core part of a child’s identity. Services are tasked with the responsibility of understanding the child’s world, which includes an understanding of these identity markers, and designing services that meet the needs of every child and young person. Whilst many services achieve this, evidence from practice safeguarding reviews (England and Wales)/case management reviews (Northern Ireland) document systemic failures (particularly in the case of children who are of African, Asian, Caribbean heritage). Culture and faith are also highlighted as significant issues but are often overlooked in professional assessments when working with families.

To improve outcomes for these children, focus is often placed on legislative measures, policy and procedure shifts along training professionals and new intervention models. However, one way forward is to improve organisational cultural competence or literacy to improve outcomes for children where deficits in practice have been identified, particularly concerning race, culture, ethnicity and faith/belief. Professionals must therefore give greater focus to how issues of race, culture, class or economic status, language and religious identity, as well as other socio-economic factors including migration, overlap and merge when working with service users — particularly those of African, Asian or Caribbean backgrounds.

Identity is like your fingerprint; it’s unique to everyone.

What is cultural literacy?

Cultural competence was first introduced in 1978 by anthropologist James Green, and since then different disciplines have developed and expanded definitions of it. Different variations in the terms used include cultural proficiency, cultural literacy and cultural sensitivity.

For organisations it is:

The ability of an organisation to develop a set of congruent behaviours, attitudes and policies that come together in a system that enables staff to work effectively in cross cultural situations.  

For an individual it is:

A set of knowledge and skills that a worker must develop in order to work effectively with multicultural clients. This is acquired over time but never actually fully achieved. In order to work effectively with minority ethnic service users, services must be responsive to the beliefs, practices and cultural and linguistic needs of diverse communities. Culturally competent practice means that a professional knows and endeavours to explore the many cultures a client brings e.g., ethnicity, religion, political systems, tribal affiliations etc. and realises how each has impacted the clients social functioning and behaviours. Practitioners ought to acknowledge these cultural values of clients as strengths but also learn to use them in assessments to guide planning and interventions. Moreover, services and organisations ought to use these insights as a tool for the design and co-design of services which meet the needs of all service users.  

It’s never the same sky. Every day is a new sky.

The project

Have you ever wondered what children and young people see when they look at their surroundings? What do they find beautiful, where do they find purpose and joy? What makes them feel a sense of safety and belonging? How do they formulate their ambitions and dreams? How can we harness this inner strength to improve the world around them? 
The Life Through My Lens project set out to answer these questions to aid assessments and interventions. Borne from a curiosity regarding the experiences of children and young people who live in Northern Ireland, we designed a project using ethnography as a means for understanding the identities of children and young people in this region.

Ethnography can be described as the process of finding out about how people live, in their own ‘words’.

We gave disposable cameras to 68 children and young people (aged 2-25) living in Northern Ireland with multiple identities to support the development of cultural literate practice within services and amongst practitioners to improve outcomes for children, young people, and families.  Using the medium of ethnography, children and young people have shaped the learning of how race, culture, economic status, language and religious identity, and other socio-economic factors including migration, intersect and what this means to a young person as they navigate through society. 

What did we find?

Need for humble curiosity

Evidence and insight tells us Education and
Employment is a key area impacting the futures of
African, Asian and Caribbean heritage children and
young people. Click here to find out more.

Challenging assumptions

Much image and content discussion centred around the concept of assumptions and how young people are challenging these.

Connections and community

Even if young people share connections and community they are primarily an individual with their own sense of identity.

Feeling a part of history

For many, family held a sense of history in being known, even if they weren’t presently together.

Family

A sense of not yet knowing who I can be indicated hopefulness.

Awareness of the ‘unknown’

A need for sensitive, professional curiosity was evident.

It’s never the same sky. Every day is a new sky.

We hope the resources that we have provided will provoke professional curiosity, resulting in holistic and thorough assessments that challenge assumptions and ensure safety for all children and young people. ‘Life through my Lens’ celebrates each child’s unique identity and we want to see all practitioners reflecting on these findings to ensure they do the same. 

Photobook
Report
Toolkit
Flash Cards

Sharing the children and young people’s stories

As part of our commitment to share the images and their message with as many people as possible, the photos and ethnography process have been beautifully captured in a photo book and a short film  

Equitable Care

To ensure the UK’s structures of power provide equitable care, opportunity and understanding for children and young people of African, Asian and Caribbean heritage.  

 

Toolkit for professionals

To support the practical implementation of the recommendations made in the thematic analysis, we have produced a toolkit for professionals and a set of flashcards to prompt discussion on identity with the children and young people you work with.

Fingerprints and Footsteps

This toolkit has been designed in response to findings from the Life Through My Lens project. Throughout he project, the children and young people who co-produced the content consistently expressed a need to have their identities and culture recognised, respected and strengthened, and this toolkit aims to support professionals to embed these lessons on cultural literacy in their day to day working lives.

 

Expert of my Experience: Igniting Cultural Curiosity in Conversations with Children & Young People

Expert of my Experience: Igniting Cultural Curiosity in Conversations with Children & Young People

  • Identities
  • Experiences
  • Daily experiences
  • Empowerment 
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Roles of organisations and professionals

It contains cards which you can use both with young people, but also as a self-reflection tool, as well as with your colleagues. This pack should be used sensitively and with an interpreter when applicable.

 

 

Photobook

Sharing the children and young people’s stories

As part of our commitment to share the images and their message with as many people as possible, the photos and ethnography process have been beautifully captured in a photo book and a short film  

Report

Equitable Care

To ensure the UK’s structures of power provide equitable care, opportunity and understanding for children and young people of African, Asian and Caribbean heritage.  

 

Download the findings of the research Download the Executive Summary
Toolkit

Toolkit for professionals

To support the practical implementation of the recommendations made in the thematic analysis, we have produced a toolkit for professionals and a set of flashcards to prompt discussion on identity with the children and young people you work with.

Fingerprints and Footsteps

This toolkit has been designed in response to findings from the Life Through My Lens project. Throughout he project, the children and young people who co-produced the content consistently expressed a need to have their identities and culture recognised, respected and strengthened, and this toolkit aims to support professionals to embed these lessons on cultural literacy in their day to day working lives.

 

Download the toolikit
Flash Cards

Expert of my Experience: Igniting Cultural Curiosity in Conversations with Children & Young People

Expert of my Experience: Igniting Cultural Curiosity in Conversations with Children & Young People

  • Identities
  • Experiences
  • Daily experiences
  • Empowerment 
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Roles of organisations and professionals

It contains cards which you can use both with young people, but also as a self-reflection tool, as well as with your colleagues. This pack should be used sensitively and with an interpreter when applicable.

 

 

Purchase the flashcards

COMING SOON!

Documentary:
Life Through My Lens

During the course of the project, we produced a documentary with the children, young people and families to share their experiences and stories. Look out for the documentary here soon.

Let’s work together

At SEEN, we pride ourselves on the work we do, and are striving to achieve our aims of creating a society where children and young people of African, Asian and Caribbean heritage have equitable futures – working with our partners to deliver these solutions. If you are interested in working with us on this, please get in touch below.