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UNION is a sector-based coaching programme for emerging community artists and social activists across the north of England. We aim to deliver an inclusive programme that develops skills, experience & leadership within the sector. We invited the first 20 participants to start their 12-month learning journey at Chapel FM between 11-13th January 2019.

The theme of the weekend was Community, Creativity and Change. (The full outline of the weekend programme here)

All about Seacroft

Participants were encouraged to immerse themselves in Seacroft, the area of East Leeds were Chapel FM is based. They experienced what was going on at Chapel FM (from a locally organised ukulele night to having their opening meal prepared and served by local teenagers in the Little Chefs group); visited a local community project, LS14 Trust; did overnight stays in a whole range of local people’s houses; had presentations on Asset Based Community Development and the role of the artist/activist. After that they had some practical work to do, working in groups to define the starting point of programmes of activity they might develop in Seacroft.

Designing a year-long programme

The idea, as with all five residential weekends planned during the year, is to focus on a particular immersive themes in each different location. The next one is in Hull in April. Each participant has their own particular learning journey and will take different things into their everyday work and career development, supported by individual coaching and mentoring.

After lots of thought, research and planning, UNION has started. Exciting times for participants and for the team running the programme. For us as organisers we loved the energy, commitment and diversity of the 20 participants. It is absolutely key for us that the group co-design the programme and by the end of those first few days together, these 20 inspiring individuals had started working and thinking as a group; taking responsibility, defining expectations; and suggesting places and themes for the subsequent residentials.


Everyone is committed to this being a reflective process and has started their learning logs and journals. Maybe seeing some of the initial thoughts is a good way to understand what this UNION thing is all about! Follow the links to read Lauren or Steph’s personal blogs about the weekend or you can listen to some of the opening thoughts of participants or read a few quotes from the weekend…


You can see pictures from the weekend, accompanied by a track from Molly Rymer, one of the young musicians who has been part of the Associate Bands programme at Chapel FM Arts Centre…

and Chapel FM Director of Words, Peter Spafford, took time out to ask some of the participants a few questions…

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