I first worked on Game Changer sessions a few years ago, with Real Ideas Organisation in their office in Liskeard. The idea was to engage young adults with drawing workshops, specifically using manga-related art. The aim was to give them a focus in their lives, to develop skills, build confidence and establish positive interactions with people with similar interests. Building those skills could help prepare them for moving into a ‘work’ mentality, and to enable them for the first time to think about paid employment, education or training as a possibility. 

When the pandemic made working from home necessary, much of my workshop activity stopped. During lockdown, I was contacted by Rose Barnecut at Creative Kernow to see if I would be interested in delivering weekly online manga sessions for Game Changer. It meant changing the way I worked slightly but I agreed. Game Changer contacted several participants to promote the group, one of whom was Lucy. She was very happy about it because drawing manga was one thing she really enjoyed.

Over the course of 2020-21, the group developed a core of regulars. Some were non-verbal, some would prefer not to have their camera on, so it was hard to gauge their response to the sessions. Lucy was somebody who was always ready to show her drawings to the group and would chat confidently during each session. Over the course of those two years, her drawing progressed well. In some sessions I helped them to invent story ideas and create characters. These were then developed by the whole group. It was a productive way to work, and we had some incredible results. Lucy came up with some great characters that we drew up and started mapping out story pages. Lucy began to be quite proud of the work she was doing, and she would turn the camera round during the sessions, to show her walls covered in her artwork. 

There were upsides and downsides to the online sessions though – it meant I couldn’t do my habitual close inspections of their drawings, something I feel helps to make constructive criticism. On the upside, some participants would struggle to get the sessions in person and found it easier to attend virtually. 

Lucy was just one of many wonderful young people I met through Game Changer. I was proud to work on it, and very glad that programs like this exist. They give young people a desperately needed voice of support and encouragement. 

“The sessions were really helpful during the lockdown and in my personal life as a constant thing that was reliable when I needed it.” – Lucy