11th November 2019
This week the South Sheffield charity Reach launched an interactive exhibition highlighting the work of the Live Better: Get Connected project, which provides help to people aged 50 and over in and around Beauchief and Greenhill who are struggling with issues of financial hardship and social isolation.
The exhibition, held from Monday to Thursday at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, was part of a collaboration between the Live Better: Get Connected project and Sheffield Hallam University’s Lab4Living, a research group that develops design-led solutions to real world problems.
A giant snakes and ladders game, designed by artist and Lab4Living PhD researcher Sarah Smith – who creates work under the moniker ‘Smizz’, was a main feature of the exhibition.
It was designed based on the experiences of people involved in the project and the difficulties they have had to navigate.
The game works like standard snakes and ladders, but here the snakes represent setbacks such as being made redundant or having to pay vet’s bills after your pet gets ill, and the ladders represent positive changes like the creation of a new bus route making it easier for you to get to work, but ultimately reaching the end of the board is all down the chance.
“I was a bit nervous because I didn’t want to trivialise people’s experiences,” said Smizz, “But actually I think getting people to play the game, especially if they haven’t had these kind of problems, makes a bigger impact by getting them to engage with these issues themselves.”
The exhibition also featured a letter writing station were visitors could write a letter to anyone in the world about an issue that impacts on their lives.
The aims of the exhibition were to showcase how the project has benefited those who have been involved as well as to draw attention to how financial difficulties and social isolation can affect people living in South Sheffield, regardless of their age.
Roisha Marsden, Reach’s administrator who helped organise the exhibition said: “It’s also to show funders what we’ve been doing.
It can be hard because a lot of funders are very focused on quantitative data in terms of outcomes, but this is meant to show it’s not as simple as that; people’s experiences and feelings can’t just be expressed by a statistic.”
The exhibition is intended to be the first in a series of interactive exhibitions that will continue into 2020.