LGBT History Month February 2016

Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans History Month

LGBT HM is celebrated in February in the UK but work to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia continues throughout the year.

In 2015 the LGBT History theme was Hidden Histories and Coded Lives. In 2016 the theme is Religion, Belief and Philosophy. In 2017 we will look at Citizenship, PSHE and Law, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.IMG_20160212_183918519[1]

For the first time, WEA Yorkshire and Humber have celebrated LGBT History month with a film screening of ‘Pride‘. The film raises awareness of an aspect of LGBT history from the 1980s, when Gay Rights activists supported the Miners’ Strike through fundraising and solidarity. The film celebrates the unexpected partnership, and the impact it had on a local community, and the wider Labour movement.

Thanks to colleagues, friends and neighbours who came along to watch the film, and begin a discussion on what the WEA can do to support diversity in the organisation and in our curriculum.




CREATIVE COHORT CONGREGATE AT THE COAST – Out of the Box Visit to Saltburn by the Sea

On a lovely June day, nineteen WEA Creative Arts and Creative Writing for Wellbeing students from York came together with tutors to take part in an “Out of the Box” cultural visit to Saltburn by the Sea.

Out of The Box Saltburn Victorian Pier York groups visit 2015.1

The purpose of the day was to experience the town of Saltburn as a piece of live history, learn about Henry Pease and how his vision of a heavenly town on the cliff top became a reality and take inspiration from the visit to work on pieces of creative art and writing in follow up study sessions.  Another important intended outcome of the day was to provide a much needed opportunity to enhance students’ health and wellbeing providing a perfect setting to relax and lower stress levels.

Out of The Box Saltburn Rail station mosaic York groups visit 2015 After a very social and relaxing train journey the group arrived at Saltburn and were immediately able to admire the colourful mosaics which adorned the station wall, learning about the history of the town which they depicted. From here the group were taken on an informative walking tour exploring the landscape, discovering the history of some of the fine old buildings, and saying hello to the sculptured statue of Henry Pease. Other highlights of the day were a fascinating funicular ride and a scintillating stroll along the Victorian pier.

Cameras were clicking as students took every opportunity to capture the colourful surroundings. Images were shared and discussed with enthusiasm on the train journey back to York. So many ideas emerging already for poetry and art work to follow. It had been such a good day; a day full of learning and new experiences, and one which had a significant impact on students’ health and wellbeing.

Student reflected and responded with the following comments:

Out of The Box Saltburn Woodland Walk York groups visit 2015“This day was an injection of wellbeing into my tired system, with the WEA organising everything to the last detail. The visit to Saltburn has been my most memorable experience in my 4 years with the WEA.”

“I loved our Saltburn trip. The fresh sea air, the interesting location and the good company were exactly what I needed to lift my mood. What a beautiful place! I can’t wait to get my paints out and capture some of the joy of the day.”

“A very good day, lots of valuable experiences for our learning in the future. Strong bonds made between individuals and the group. Good support available and the itinerary wasn’t too demanding.”

“The visit went really well. Took a lot of photos and got so much inspiration for my art work. Enjoyed the company.”

“Lovely scenery. I’m certainly thinking of going to Saltburn again.”

“Saltburn; a beautiful day, sharing hidden gems and moments of discovery.”

“Today will be a beautiful memory that I will treasure forever. Thank you for making it possible

A History of England – Words and Pictures

It was undoubtedly an ambitious task to cover a history of England in a six week WEA class, but by focussing on themes and selecting images and text the recent ‘A History of England – Words and Pictures’ course did indeed achieve this goal. The course included how Roman mosaics reflected changing society and beliefs, the influence of religion in key Anglo Saxon texts, the representation of conflict in the Bayeux Tapestry, issues of democracy through the Magna Carta, vivid agricultural scenes in the Luttrell Psalter, Tudor Portraiture, the turbulent seventeenth century, Pepys’ Diary, Daniel Defoe’s accounts of different places, Victorian innovation and representations of conflict in the twentieth century and emotional responses to the poetry and art of the world wars.

However, it was the collaborative and very much creative endeavours of the group that really made the course. Drawing upon the many inspirations of how words and pictures have been used to record historic events, describe everyday life and campaign for change from throughout the course, students embarked upon a project to document daily life in the twenty-first century.

Here is a selection of their work:-


Ruth showcases her pictorial story of the history of dance through images – dance is an important part of her life and her design was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry we had looked at in an earlier session.

Pauline reflected on her family history and said “The world has always needed leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs, people of power, but try to imagine life without the ordinary man or woman going about their daily business, working, farming, fighting wars, paying taxes. There would be no goods to trade, not much food, no army to defend the country, no transport no mills or factories, no offices, no schools, teachers or colleges – the list is endless. The unknown, unsung masses are what made the world what it is today, and also put the Great in Great Britain”


Joan explained how she had started a personal discovery of the Halifax area and as she travelled she thought of writing about what she saw but in the end opted for a visual representation of an important hobby – gardening

An extract from a letter to Daniel Defoe by Jonathan:-

“Dear Daniel Defoe,

It is now 290 years since your visit to Halifax in 1725. I enjoyed reading your account of your journey here in ‘A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain’. I thought you would be interested to know something of the changes that have taken place since your visit.

You described your journey here on the main packhorse route from Wakefield as being ‘exceedingly troublesome and dangerous’. The road was ‘so steep, so rugged…sometimes too slippery’ and hardly suitable for carriages. The route was replaced by new turnpike roads in 1741 and 1824. Then in 1841 there was a development you would have found exciting. The Manchester and Leeds Railway Company opened a railway line through the Calder Valley. Naturally, the Rochdale and Halifax Turnpike Trust tried to delay proceedings…in recent years there has been a development that I think you would find even more astonishing. A broad road has been constructed with room for three carriages to travel abreast in each direction. This road crosses the old packhorse route near Hipperholme. Today the carriages are referred to as ‘cars’ and are powered by internal combustion engines using refined oil. They can maintain a speed of 70 mph. The average daily flow of cars on this road is 1000,000 travelling east and 78,000 travelling west!”

The letter continues to describe changes to religion and governance and finally publishing discussing e-books. It concludes “I think it would please you to know that many of your writings are still in print. It is possible to buy an ebook at a cost of £1-6s-6d with your Complete Works (illustrated)”.

My journey to Walsingham by Margaret described it as a “marvellous place of peace and quiet, able to concentrate on important parts of our lives away from every day things we normally do”.


Sue wrote a poem entitled ‘My Favourite Things’

“Give way to drivers – they look miserable

Not a wave to me – am I invisible?

Shop assistants – I’m ignored

They just stand chatting looking bored

Litter from cars lands with a bump

Turning our village into a dump

Junk emails – nuisance calls

Cause me to bounce off all four walls

Can’t climb trees can’t play conkers

Health and safety drives me bonkers

Please forgive me I’m only human

Or am I just a grumpy old woman”

Congratulations to everyone who contributed this work to add new words and pictures to document some aspect of their lives – great innovative work.

More success for the WEA!


WEA students from the Functional Skills Maths and English classes celebrated their success and achievement at Batley Central Children’s Centre. Students have taken their City and Guilds maths exams this term, and are awaiting their formal results. English exams are in a few weeks, and everyone is studying hard!
A big thank you from WEA’s Organiser in Kirklees, and students, to the Batley Children’s Centres (cluster of Carlinghow & Wilton, Batley East, Batley Central and Staincliffe & Healey).  The managers and staff in these centres do so much to promote adult learning: they support students with childcare and information; recruit students to courses; plan courses to meet students’ needs and local priorities.  Their knowledge and support helps the WEA to reach local students who may otherwise struggle to attend adult education classes.
                     Photo: Sue Kennedy WEA Maths tutor (far left) and students from the Functional Skills English, and Maths, classes.



Watch the Bumbles on BBC Look North

The founder of the first mixed ability rugby side Anthony Brook, newly qualified coach Leon Taylor and head coach ‘Cookie’ talk to BBC Look North about the inception of the club, their recent achievements and their plans for the future. Whilst also speaking about the general issues around disability and inclusion.

Find out more about the Bumbles here >

The Tour De France is coming

Gearing up for the Tour de France heading to Yorkshire, The Workers Educational Association (WEA) has teamed up with partners across Leeds in an arts project unlike any other, ‘The Tour de France is coming!’

The project offered students from suburbs across Leeds a chance to interpret a poem, written by Leeds resident Katie Fabri, through art, song writing, guitar, creative writing, singing and French.

The students’ journey has been captured and made into a short film recording their artwork, poetry and song as a legacy of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire.

John Barker, WEA Course Programme Worker said ‘It’s been an incredible journey, the students have worked together like never before and now we’re looking forward to sharing our journey with as many people as possible.’

The film will be shown on the big screen at Millennium Square in Leeds in the coming weeks.

Having cycled to each of the community centres involved in the project Katie hopes ‘The buzz around the Tour de France will help others find confidence to get on their bike and explore Leeds as it has for me.’