Kazzum Arts is a London-based arts and health charity, supporting children and young people who have been impacted by trauma and adversity to feel seen, heard and valued by providing opportunities for creative expression and agency through multidisciplinary arts activities.
Kazzum Arts works with young people who have experienced high levels of Adverse Childhood Experiences which have resulted in social, emotional and mental health issues, communication needs, disabilities, exclusion and displacement. Programmes use creative activities as a means of building confidence, communication skills, creativity and engagement in learning, whilst also helping children and young people to develop healthy relationships with others and the world around them.
The work is developed and delivered through Kazzum’s unique trauma-informed approach and builds upon their extensive knowledge and ongoing research. Numerous studies have shown that creativity can have a lasting positive impact on the lives of children and adults who have experienced adversity. Kazzum’s programmes of activity are co-developed with the young people that they support and are designed to give participants the opportunity for post-traumatic growth.
Kazzum Arts work in partnership with organisations to deliver regular workshops with children and young people aged 5-25 in several different trauma-impacted spaces. Those include young people on hospital wards, young migrants and refugees, students attending alternative provisions and pupil-referral units, and key stage one children in primary schools. Their belief is that opportunities for creative expression can be transformative in the lives of those they work with, and they use creativity to reduce isolation, build confidence and develop self-reflection.
In the past few years, there has been an increasing level of need across the sector due to the lasting effects of the pandemic, a rising cost-of-living and increasingly hostile public attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers. These factors mean that Kazzum is dedicated to countering the impact of childhood adversity and meeting the relational and creative needs of participants in a more meaningful way than ever before.
All Kazzum’s work is immersed within health, education and community environments. As a small organisation, this allows them to reach a wide range of children and young people and to deliver projects where they are needed the most. The work is exclusively delivered in partnership with outside organisations, ranging from hospital and educational settings (both mainstream and exclusion) to migrant community and activism groups. Many of the partnerships have been long-standing, but with recent opportunities to work with new organisations with an aligned purpose. Collaborating in this way has provided the resources to reach a wider pool of young people who need the services. As a small charity, Kazzum does not have a practical workshop space, and so building these partner relationships means artist facilitators are able to actualise various exciting and multidisciplinary arts projects for children and young people.
A collaborative approach is initiated throughout the programmes, aided by youth voice practices. Projects use creative consultation throughout the process, to support young people to plan, develop, experience and evaluate alongside Kazzum’s professional team. This feeds into the wider practice of amplifying youth voices and encouraging agency through creativity, and ensures that representation of lived experience remains throughout all activity.
Kazzum’s leadership is informed by the lived experience of, and the recovery from, traumatic stress which has influenced their methods of reflection and strategic development. This enriches the trauma-informed approach and enables empathic connection across the programmes.
Impact is measured through various means. Facilitators conduct regular informal ‘check ins’ with workshop participants to gather an idea of how they found the activities and what they would like to do next. Comprehensive evaluation methods are used including formal questionnaires, interviews and feedback sessions with participants, facilitators and partners to comply with funding stipulations and inform ongoing progress. The annual Impact Report, includes quantitative data on everything that has been achieve, and is a moment for reflection as well as impetus for forward momentum.
Recent quotes from participants include:
“I got to express myself and feel calm.” - Pathways Participant
“[The sessions] made me feel more aware of myself, helped with problem-solving, and helped understand myself better.” - Build Participant
“My wellbeing has changed massively, I feel more confident and less scared, I feel less traumatised, My mood has improved, I feel confident to talk to people and ask, before I was so scared and angry, I was so depressed.” - Pathways Participant
Over the past two years Kazzum has focused on ensuring that the trauma-informed approach is fed into every programme in a meaningful way. They have also been developing a systemic perspective of the organisation to ensure that all policies and procedures are in line with a trauma-informed approach. This has enriched practice and created new opportunities for strategic growth and development across the organisation. The development of the Amplify Youth Voice Guide has been integral to this process and Kazzum is now working towards aligning all programmes with this framework.
They are also expanding and refining their Trauma Awareness Training, which is currently offered to leading organisations and individuals throughout the year. This allows for connection across the sector and for the sharing of the knowledge accumulated through building a trauma-informed organisation.
Kazzum understands the importance of strategic partnerships and is keen to further embed its services within spaces which recognise the value and importance of creative and relational encounters for building and maintaining health and wellbeing.
“Overall, we are excited about new partnerships that have recently been established and looking forward to impacting the lives of ever more children and young people through creativity in 2024 and beyond.” – Kazzum Arts