The WOW Zone in Wythenshawe has just been awarded Â£10k from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further Â£5k from Archives+ in Manchester to deliver a project with Young People aged 11-19 into Wilfred Owen's view of life in the trenches.
Based at Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre in Wythenshawe, the WOW Zone is part of Wythenshawe Community Housing Group's community investment programme, providing high quality community services to the people of Wythenshawe. The WOW Zone Team provides innovative learning programmes which are accessed by over 400 children and Young People every year.
This 'WW1 Then and Now' project was initially prompted last summer by a suggestion by Wythenshawe's late MP, Paul Goggins, who thought it would be great to reflect on this year's WW1 centenary.
Andy Jordan, Manager of the WOW Zone, explains; "We asked our Young People for inspiration for a WW1 project and they came up with the idea of looking at Wilfred Owen's powerful poetry that tells the stark reality of life in the trenches. There is a strong local connection as Wilfred Owen was commissioned into the Manchester Regiment. He was posthumously awarded the Military Cross having been killed in action a week before Armistice Day."
The 15 Young People working on the project will work in partnership with Manchester Archives+, comparing Owen's poetry with archive material and documented evidence to see if it accurately reflects the realities of trench warfare. External visits will include tours of local WW1 graves and visits to the Imperial War Museum in Manchester and the newly refurbished Manchester Central Library. The Young People will be encouraged to respond creatively through drama, poetry writing and producing animated films.
The project will also include a Q & A session with local 'older people's' groups so that the Young People can research and find out more about people's personal recollections. Interviews will be recorded for local radio station, Wythenshawe FM.
The WWI project will culminate in a Community Showcase Event at the Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre on 4th August, 100 years to the day since the start of the war. Central Library will then host an exhibition of the work, which will then go on tour across local community centres and be delivered as an Assembly Presentation to the 4 local high schools.
Nigel Wilson, Group Chief Executive of Wythenshawe Community Housing Group said; "Wythenshawe Community Housing Group is committed to community investment and this project is a great example of the work that the WOW Zone team can do. Our Young People will be working with local older groups, which is a great opportunity for the community to work together, share personal stories and develop a greater understanding of each other."
Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Sara Hilton, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: "The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. We have already invested more than Â£45 million in commemorative projects, including local community projects like WOW Zone, which will enable young people to explore and record their local wartime history".