Walk with me down a dead-end street in a post-industrial neighbourhood; on one side high walls and fencing protect a new build estate, on the other crumbling brick walls shield a demolished factory site. Pass through a hidden opening and uneven steps lead you to a pathway overgrown with brambles, littered with beer cans and burnt objects; the signifiers of a disused urban space.
We have been working with young people on Feral Spaces projects at Burslem Port since 2016, in partnership with local community group Middleport Matters and Burslem Port Trust who are developing plans to reopen the canal and regenerate the area.
Whilst it may not strike some as an idyllic site for nature, wildlife is abundant here with a great variety of habitats, including woodland, wetland and the canal. Young people have eaten blackberries, held caterpillars, frogs and crickets here for the first time.
With funding from the Arts Council, Big Lottery, Canal and River Trust and Stoke-on-Trent City Council the Feral Spaces project has engaged; 80 young people in Urban Explorers interventions, 70 young people in Workshops, 130 young people and 80 adults in public Events. A total of 280 young people have engaged with the project for a total of 1,100 engagement hours.
The photographs below were taken by young people during Feral Spaces workshops at Burslem Port in 2018