National Creative Learning Award for collaborative publication exploring women's viewpoints during WWI

A book developed between young people, the University of Leeds and key heritage partners has been recognised by The Creative Learning Guild.

New Focus, a dynamic group of young people based at the Impressions Gallery in Bradford, have been awarded a National Creative Learning Award for a recent collaborative publication exploring women's lives and viewpoints throughout the First World War.

The book, No Man’s Land: Young People Uncover Women’s Viewpoints of the First World War, was awarded in the Heritage category. The project was developed in partnership with the University of Leeds, The Peace Museum Bradford and The First World War Centenary Partnership, led by Imperial War Museums.

Professor Alison Fell, who leads the University’s Legacies of War project, ran two workshops with New Focus, in addition to a day exploring war-related photographs from the University's Liddle Collection. Genealogist Ann Fell also supported students to carry out further research into a number of women's backgrounds, while Professor Fell advised on the book's text.

Professor Fell said: “This was a wonderful project to collaborate on, and they thoroughly deserve this recognition. In the imaginative way they presented the documents and photographs from our collections in their book, New Focus breathed new life into these women’s lives, showing not only their pioneering roles during the war, but also their relevance today in some of the challenges and ethical dilemmas that they faced as women working in a man’s world.”

The imaginative peer-led publication will be a schools-based resource for the future.

Esme Ward, Director of Manchester Museum

Judge Esme Ward, Director of Manchester Museum, added: “This is a brilliant project and publication. I applaud its commitment to challenging and breaking stereotypes. Photos and stories are published for the first time. I am struck by how the process encouraged curiosity, collaboration and creativity and has driven their collective work to bring archives and untold stories to life. Participants have learned new skills, encountered and explored new worlds, developed networks and worked together to make the past relevant and resonant to today and their lives. In caring for and animating the past, they are staking a claim on what will matter in the future. The imaginative peer-led publication will be a schools-based resource for the future. The commitment to inclusion runs throughout the entire project; from participants, events and workshops to book distribution to students and teachers. I hope the award encourages New Focus to develop with ever bigger and bolder ambition — as individuals, as a collective and as creatives in their city and that it raises their profile and supports future plans to ensure New Focus continue to make, create, take pride in and lead change in their communities.” 

The National Creative Learning Awards are organised by The Creative Learning Guild, a charity based in Yorkshire that supports the grassroots creative learning movement across the UK through a Guild membership scheme and the new awards.

Find out more about the New Focus collective at