Our First Workshop in the Park

Tuesday September 13th

We arrived at Payers Park at 4pm and over the time we were there we spoke to two families, some adults, and a couple of teens. We worked with two boys who were enthusiastic to look at some comics and learned how to make their own zines out of a sheet of A4 paper. We hope to see them again next week and see what they’ve made with that new skill.

We were also able to give out some copies of our new comic “those 2 guys”, a simple comic that demonstrates some principles in order to teach young people about making their own.

It was an extremely successful first week but we learned some things too… We need to arrive earlier! Specifically we will running from 3-5pm from now on so that we can interact with young people as they travel through on the way home from school.

If you haven’t seen us yet come down next week and come back often as our resources change continually + soon we’ll have some more work made by young people available for you to take away.

The original dream for the Mobile Comics Factory involved travelling to Folkestone’s parks to provide our free workshops to any young people hanging about. 
It gives me great pride to have realised that aim, and that what was once my individual ambition is now a reality brought about by many. I have a volunteer working with me every Tuesday, the support of Shepway district council and Payers park management, not to mention the good will of community folk and the financial backing of our marvelous funders. It is still amazing to me that this should have been possible and it only increases my ambition to make this project impact deeper and travel further (both in what we do and where we do it). The MCF is currently run as a project from Harbour Church, as part of a range of activities that exist to serve our community: I am particularly grateful for the nurturing environment in which the project has been incubated, and I’m excited to discover where we will go from here!

Thanks for following the project

We hope to see you at the factory soon.

Below is an image of the new workshop materials being made-

The Phoenix Rises

How We Got Here

There is lots of information about the project on this blog, but what were the things that lead to its development? Well here I lay it all out, at a significant point in our history.

As I write to you reader we are a couple of days away from a decision that will significantly shape the future of The Mobile Comics Factory, we have made a large application to a particular body and will be receiving a decision on whether we receive the funding soon.

This funding will not decide if the project happens but it will massively affect the projects scale, effectiveness, and opportunity. If we receive the funding I will be able to devote my working hours to the project, seeking new collaborators, developing the program, finding ways to extend the project, working with other agencies and guaranteeing that the factory will be out in Folkestone at least once a week for the next year!

If we don’t receive the funding, then we will be reliant on whatever time I can volunteer and the project will be much smaller in scope and scale.

So it really is a nail biting time here. However I am confident in the project, I have been encouraged by the positive response and I believe this project represents an amazing opportunity for Folkestone. This anxious moment causes me to reflect on how we got to this point and reminds me that nothing worth while happens without risk.

Some of you may not know that I have been running creative workshops in Folkestone for five years under the name RE:mix. The project is managed by Harbour Church, as part of their commitment to community outreach and social action. Over the years it has been supported finincially by generous donations from The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, Folkestone Rotary Club, Up On The Downs, and Shepway District Council.

We have run termly workshops in all kinds of areas of creative media, including making comics, animation and film-making. Here are some examples of previous work from RE:mix.

As you can see the young people at RE:mix have made amazing work over the years, and you’ll be pleased to hear there is some stuff still to be released from this year’s projects.

We started RE:mix in Harbour Church’s building in Harvey Street (no longer owned by the church). At that time we had up to 30 young people each week from a range of communities, particularly those with greatest need. It was a vibrant time. In our middle period we ran from another location in Wear Bay Road. We had some of our best outcomes in this period, we were able to build a studio and we created an internet video series that was picked up by the local paper a few times. During this time had an average attendance of 15 to 2o, with most of that drop off in engagement came from migrants and the lowest income families. Despite the successes of the project I worked hard to keep attendance up by running more socially socially orientated workshops – like a drop in club – but found that the small change in location presented a real obstacle for attendance for those with the greatest need.

This past year we have been running our workshops from Sunflower House, Foord Road and have found the same issue intensified. Sunflower House is fantastic, but it is a difficult location from which to run youth work.

I am not content to let a situation persist in which we are not reaching every young person who wants access to our projects. The first hand experience I have had seeing the power these workshops have for good, and recognising the geographical tether that most teens experience are the factors which lead to developing the Mobile Comics Factory. No longer will we be limited by our location, and we will be able to bring our workshops direct to where young people congregate.