The initial stage of the project in Whipton was to work out how to create a structure to enable the work to take place and be most effective. Steve Stuart from Safety Partnerships assisted James in setting up a series of meetings with those concerned.


James met with Nik Taylor (Community Police Officer), Sally Horner (Family Intervention) and Dave Andrews (Challenge and Support) at Heavitree Police Station to discuss possible candidates from a group of young people who had come to the attention of the various authorities.


James then consulted local beat officers who had direct street-level contact with the young people in the Whipton area of Exeter. The police officers' relationship with local young people was supported by organised events such as evening and holiday football training and annual paintball trips.


The general consensus from the initial meeting was that there was a shortage of youth workers or outreach workers engaging with the young people in the area.



Dave Andrews of Challenge and Support sent out a letter to the young people and their parent or guardians to set up introductions between them and James. Steve Stuart of Safety Partnerships set up a meeting with Calvin Thane, the Behavious Manager at St. James School. A list was drawn up and it was agreed that James would write a letter of introduction to the parents or guardians and a visual invitation addressed to each young person accompanied by letter from Calvin Thane.



James and the team set up a series of meetings with the young people in the school to introduce themselves and allow them to get to handle the tools and become familiar with the approach that Carving Community was offering. Alongside this, James went with Dave Andrews of Challenge and Support to meet with the young people who were outside of the school/education system at their homes with their parents or guardians present.


Progress against Targets

The table below plots the targets of the project against the progress and results.



To engage with 12 young people referred from Challenge and Support who have come to the safety partnerships attention from their antisocial behaviour.

Letters and meetings were set up with parents/guardians.


Contact with 9 young people and families was established.

One young person had moved away and another was no longer a resident in child care.


There was some controversy between some of the young men contacted and a young woman.

To provide 4 day creative workshops to engage and make relationships.

All 9 young people contacted completed the project. By the end of the 4 day project a working relationship had been established.

The first three days of the project were confrontational but relationships were maintained and the group relationship on the woodland workshop was transformational.

To provide 3 consecutive workshop days in settings familiar and local to the young people.

All nine young people attended and participated each day, starting at 10AM and finishing at 4:30PM.They all engaged in the creative work learning to use the tools within the context of a creative process.

All the young people experienced a practical working environment, learning skills and dexterity in the making of their own sculptural objectand establishing a reflective dialogue regarding their attitudes to peer relationships and personal behaviour.

To provide an opportunity for the young people to broaden their experiences away from familiar everyday distractions in a woodland workshop.


To take a greater risk to engage with life within a social constructive environment.

Despite the challenging behaviour of the first 3 days, the young people still stayed in relationship with us and significant behavioural changes were witnessed. The process of self reflective responses to cause and effect had been internalised by some of the young people.

Once a mutual respect had been established it was noticeable that the young people's responses to each other had improved and their relationship with the facilitators as older male authority figures had positively transformed.

To establish relationships with young people and their families.

5 visits to the family homes were made within the project timetable to establish a mutual trust with the parents or guardians.

The relationships with the families grew as the project developed. The families supported our work with their children and ensured their continuing attendance.


Impact of the work

The four day creative workshops allowed two male facilitators to engage and create trusting relationships with 9 young people with antisocial behaviour histories.


9 young people engaged in a practical creative project with tools, learning skill and dexterity.


Each young person completed their own unique sculpture.


The young people learned to reflect on their attitudes and behaviour patterns and implement change.


Individuals learnt to work and co-operate in a group focused endeavour, learning to tolerate individual differences and needs.


The young people were able to learn to respect authority and to hold themselves accountable to set boundaries and agreed contracts.


The group collectively collaborated in the discussion of contracts and the conditions needed to work together.


The young people learned to respect the rules of health and safety.


The group requested future engagement with Carving Community.





'Sharp On The Inside' is a two-day creative event with young men set in the rural landscape of the Peak District. The program will explore the ‘tempering’ of young men through the active, imaginative and reflective use of hand tools such as axes, knives and heavy hammers. We aim to offer the opportunity for young men to individually and collectively know more about who they are in the context of living in their own communities in changing times. The work will enable the young person to witness both in  themselves and others in the group their own unique gifts and qualities and at the same time acknowledge choices and behaviours that have not worked for them in the past.  We take as our starting premise that creativity can allow a young person the opportunity to explore a deeper sense of themselves and support them to be more in control of their behaviours in the future.



Aim: To provide practical creative experiences with sharp tools i.e. axes and whittling knives. Each individual will explore their actions and outcomes within a group creative project. This will enable them to practise building reflective insights about themselves and a deeper emotional, and imagined depth of being from which to respond when challenged in the future.   



For this project we had one evening of meetings and introductions, followed by a two day workshop (10am - 4.30pm) and one evening carving using fire (7pm - 12pm).


Sunday 27th June - Evening meeting

Meeting with staff to introduce the Carving Community team and our way of working and agree how we will work together in partnership. The team will then be introduced to the young people by the staff.



Key Themes: Meeting the tools, introduction of the knife-edge as weapon or tool.

Focus: Introductions, engagement, questions and answers from young people. Who am I, who are you?



Monday 28th June - 10am start


Key Themes: Safety, boundaries, group participation, health and safety.
Focus: How will we be together? What are your unwritten rules?


Key Themes: How to use tools, whittling, splitting, and swinging the axe.
Focus: Evoking emotions, outrage, anger and destruction. What are my triggers?


Key Themes: Fragments, picking up the pieces, taking notice of unique qualities.
Focus: Being bluntly honest with yourself. Who am I in conflict?


Key Themes: Cleaving apart to see something new for the first time. Working in pairs one Belfast /one Sheffield lad.
Focus: Reflecting on raw insight to new ways of looking. What got me here? What is my history?


Key Themes: Handy with a tool. Chip off the block.
Focus: Revealing, transformation, working with ones past, cutting new form. What can I do differently? 

Key Themes: Cooked by life experiences
Focus: Group sharing of Personal stories of experiences of change. What sustains me from the past? What will support me in the future? If I change will my community change?



Tuesday 29th June-10am start

Key themes: Revealing things you didn’t know about yourself.
Focus: Group sharing on what has been witnessed by self and others. ‘I am looking at me, looking at you, looking at me.’ What support will my community give me. What support will I give my community?


Key themes: Creating meaningful symbols to hold on to in times of trouble.
Focus: How can I respond differently to conflict situations in the future? What's at stake? What will it take?


Key Themes: 'Maybe I am a King' - Personal visions of the future, expectations and hopes.
Focus: Who am I at my best? How can I step into that part of myself when challenged in the future?



Key Themes: ‘Never draw your blade in anger’. Samurai story. What is the reflection of yourself in the blade.
Focus: Honouring the group shared experience and how to return to ones everyday life with courage and dignity.


Impact of the work

Each young man and leader was asked to complete an evaluation sheet. There were 19 completed sheets. The first task was to circle words to describe how they felt about the workshop.


challenging 17

interesting 16

useful 6

exciting 14

new 14

different 15

not of use 0

emotional 3

tiring 14

worthwhile 9

rewarding 9

memorable 14


Below are some excerpts from the questionnaire section of the evaluation sheets.

What for you has been the best bit?
"When we chopped the big tree in half."
"Chopping the tree."
"Chopping the log and seeing the outcome after the fire."

What has been the hardest bit?
"The working times."
"Getting up early and some of us got blisters."
"Wire brushing."


What are your thoughts on the Carving Community staff?
"They have been brilliant, really helpful and very good leaders."
"The staff have been good, helpful, encouraging and useful leaders with a lot of experience during the time here."
"They are all nice men to work with."

Can you say if the experience will help you in any way in the future?
"If I need wood I know what to do now."
"Yes it will, I am doing a joinery course back at home, this the first time I have used a axe though."
"Yes, it shows me it is essential to work with others to get the job done."
"I believe that it can help me with team work and having a go at new things."

Would you recommend this type of experience to others?
"Yes, I think it was a very nice, fun experience."
"Yes, because it's been surprisingly enjoyable."


We feel the young men really got involved with the workshop and started to reflect on their lives at home and their place in their communities and the world. Hopefully theywill see more positive possibilities for themselves in the future.


The staff from Belfast and Sheffield where very supportive and had a great relationship with their young people. They helped us set fair and safe boundaries. We have found in the past that some youth leaders get to involved in this work themselves, but this was not the case here. The staff instinctively knewwhen to help and more importantly when to stand back. It was a pleasure meeting and working with such a committed and skilled team.