The Passions of Youth was a youth-based community project which took place in Manchester and Salford in 2015. This intergenerational project, which worked with FC United, Collyhurst & Moston Lads Club, Salford Youth Hub, and a Basketball team at The Factory Youth Zone, brought together working-class young men in their teens with historians, youth and community workers, film-makers, elderly people, exhibition curators, archivists, and local communities.
Youth studies and histories of youth have often focused on the exceptional and sensational rather than the ordinary and everyday and have frequently stereotyped applied negative stereotypes to working-class young men. Passions of Youth worked with them in ways which celebrated their abilities and creativity, enabling them to develop their own stories while acquiring new skills in historical research, oral history techniques and film-making.
Young people, especially boys and young men, are all too often seen as problems. Passions of Youth celebrated the expertise they develop outside formal learning and the education system, through their leisure enthusiasms, developing models of good practice about how creative activities might be used to enhance their self-confidence and self-esteem, aiming to empower those who took part through creativity.
Through involvement in the project, the young men created their own stories and images about how the leisure lives of working-class young people in Manchester and Salford have changed since the Second World War. They received training in various creative activities such as oral history techniques, filming and archive research and visited local heritage venues, such as the National Football Museum, the Working Class Movement Library, Salford Museum & Art Gallery, the People’s History Museum and took part in activities at Manchester Metropolitan University.
ORIGINS AND FUNDING
Passions was inspired by Professor Melanie Tebbutt’s book, Being Boys: Youth, Leisure and Identity in the Inter-War Years. Being Boys used everyday leisure activities as a lens through which to explore the masculinities of working-class boys in the interwar years. It focused on ‘ordinary’ and ‘everyday’ experiences during adolescence and on how feelings and emotions were expressed through recreational experiences.
Research for Being Boys was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which provided further funding in the form of an AHRC follow-on award for her Passions of Youth engagement project.
Passions developed a community-based interpretation of some of the book’s themes, by using leisure enthusiasms as a medium through which to break down educational and cultural barriers with hard-to-reach working-class teenagers and engaging them with the historical and heritage of their leisure pursuit.