Broadening horizons with Leeds Gypsy & Traveller Exchange  

Since the start of the academic year, the Widening Participation and Outreach Team at University Centre Leeds has been working in partnership with Leeds Gypsy & Traveller Exchange, known more commonly as Leeds GATE, offering taster sessions in Fashion, Theatrical, Hair and Media Make Up. 

Leeds Gate was established in 2013 with an aim to improve the quality of life for Gypsy and Traveller communities. It works tirelessly to address the issues which affect Gypsy and Traveller people including home, education, health and employment. The community hub and resources centre, located in Cross Green, serves over 400 families and individuals from the local area and those passing through.  

The purpose of the sessions is to provide an opportunity to try new things, develop skills and introduce practical elements of both further and higher education. It provides an informal opportunity to discuss careers in a range of industries, as well as education options, and higher education provision across the region. In addition, the use of positive role models through student ambassadors supporting and leading on activities has enabled the young people to find out what higher education is really like. 

Around eleven young people have taken part in several interactive sessions on a bi-weekly basis. From designing their own sketchbooks to planning and creating their own makeup looks, the sessions have given the young people involved the opportunity to gain valuable insights into the world of media hair and makeup. The sessions have also allowed the young people to develop an appreciation for the range of subject areas relating to the study of Fashion, Theatrical and Media Hair and Makeup at HE level and develop technical knowledge in relation to areas such as Special Effects makeup.  

The sessions have been facilitated by Outreach Officer Hannah McKay and Fashion, Theatrical, Hair and Media Make Up Student Ambassadors. Hannah commented: “The young people are very creative and have really enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in the practical elements of the sessions. They enjoy working independently and experimenting with different looks and types of makeup.”

From the offset, we have given the young people involved the opportunity to discuss their interests and aspirations for the future and have based the content of our sessions on these conversations. We firmly believe that allowing young people to have a voice, and partnership in project design, has been fundamental to the success of the project and the high levels of engagement that we have observed thus far. We will continue working with Leeds GATE next term, have those young people involved, and key members of the organisation, consulting on the focus of the next project.  

If you would like to know more information, please don’t hesitate to contact Sophie Clayton or Hannah McKay