News & Events

Hidden Stories inspires Cumbria’s children to think beyond their own homes

The Hidden Stories exhibition and workshop is inspiring Cumbrian communities and school children to consider their own home and what it would mean to leave it and live somewhere else. It is also encouraging a more thoughtful and empathetic understanding of ‘migration’ which has often been described in media and press over the last few years as something to be feared in the UK.

Communities and schools in Cockermouth, Grange-over-Sands, Kendal, Sedbergh and Workington are the latest to have experienced and been challenged by the stories recorded for the original Hidden Stories Shared Lives project.

The exhibition is based on the interviews of 50 people who were born outside the UK but now live in Cumbria. It includes listening posts so people can hear these stories told by the person who experienced them as well as the Seat at the Table installation where five of the interviewees also contributed insights from their daily lives and what it means to now live here.

Cumbria Development Education Centre (CDEC), which works with local schools to promote global citizenship and learning, is touring the exhibition. The project is funded by an Awards for All grant from the Big Lottery Fund, and by Cumbria County Council.

Cockermouth’s children are inspired to build an art display

Over 300 children from local primary schools visited the exhibition at Cockermouth School, where the art department used the stories to run an art workshop and inspire their own art installation. From thinking about what home means to them, to where they would like to go if they left Cumbria and what they would miss, the children were given the time to also consider where they and their own families came from, or where they had visited for work or holiday.

By the end of the week’s visit, the exhibition had inspired a camp of hundreds of little tents showing where the children would move to if they could, and flags with pictures of what they would miss.

Considering migration in Cumbria

The workshop also focuses on what migration is as well as the history of Cumbria; people from other areas of Britain, Europe and the world have been brought, or have moved here on their own volition. They learnt that migration isn’t a new thing and that it has contributed positively to our county’s heritage and industry.

Teacher Claire Smits at Ashfield Junior School in Workington said her pupils loved ‘Learning about other people’s experiences and ideas, sharing ideas within the class and parent’s community. [They] realised that we are a mixture of backgrounds – and…people [have] come to Cumbria for thousands of years – the Romans, the Anglo Saxons, the Scots, the Picts and the Vikings.’

Taking down barriers and building empathy with others

Debbie Watson, who is organising the touring exhibition and leading the workshops for CDEC, reflected; ‘The children and other members of the communities really take on the challenge to think about where their own roots lie, what their own ideas of moving are and how difficult or easy this would be. They show a huge amount of empathy for our original participants in the project who had actually made the move to leave their original homes and are now settled here in Cumbria. We hope that this experience not only removes barriers of where they can go in life, but also about how they accept other people from other places.’

The exhibition and workshop will continue to tour Cumbria through November and into the New Year.

If you are a teacher or a school and you would like to further your insight into Hidden Stories Shared Lives, take a look at and book our continuing professional development courses based around Hidden Stories and the themes that have emerged from the project.

October 2018


Join in Cumbria’s Hidden Stories community exhibition and workshop as it tours to Whitehaven Library and Archive Centre and Millom Discovery Centre

The popular and fascinating Hidden Stories exhibition is coming to Whitehaven Library and Archive Centre between 16 and 20 July, and then is heading to Millom Discovery Centre from 23 to 27 July. It is giving the community a chance to explore this exhibition further and take part in a workshop.

The workshop at Whitehaven is on Wednesday 18 July at 11 am (book your place at the library or by emailing, and is on Friday 27 July at 2pm at Millom Discovery Centre (no need to book, just turn up!). So why not head down and see what it is all about?

Through the exhibition and community workshop, Cumbria Development Education Centre (which runs Hidden Stories) is giving you the chance to explore the stories of some of those who have chosen to live in Cumbria but were born outside the UK. This is thanks to a Big Lottery Awards for All grant and funding from Cumbria County Council.

It is an opportunity to explore their determination, motivation and the factors behind their move through their own words, as well as what ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ mean to you. It is also a chance to consider your own life story and understand the value you bring to your own community.

Through the workshop, the men, women, young and old of Whitehaven and Millom will have the opportunity to learn more about those who now live in Cumbria but were born outside the UK, and to also explore their own journeys and identity.

The workshop space is a welcoming one where everyone is treated with respect and is guided by CDEC’s expert facilitator. Come along and take part in games, activities and discussion. Everyone is welcome, so why not bring a friend?

Laura Goad, Director of CDEC, said, ‘The original Hidden Stories project collected a huge number of fascinating and different stories from our communities. We want to continue to share these stories with all age groups in the hope that we can all learn a little more about ourselves, our own stories, as well as the perspective of our neighbours! The communities of Whitehaven and Millom will have a chance to explore the stories through the exhibition and by taking part in the workshop.’

July 2018


Lottery grant boosts Cumbria’s Hidden Stories community exhibition and workshop

CDEC is celebrating receiving an Awards for All grant to extend the conversation of its Hidden Stories Shared Lives project with Cumbria’s communities. The Big Lottery Fund has given this grant through Awards for All to enable CDEC to take the Hidden Stories exhibition and workshop to 12 Cumbrian venues over the next six months.

Communities will have the opportunity to learn more about those who now live in Cumbria but were born outside the UK, but also explore their own journeys and identity.

Laura Goad, Director of CDEC, remarked, ‘This is fabulous news for the communities of Cumbria. The original Hidden Stories project had such a strong following and heart, and collected a huge number of fascinating and different stories from our communities, which we want to continue to share and learn from. The Awards for All grant, made possible by the National Lottery players, will allow us to do just that – so thank you!’

The grant is enabling CDEC to be part of the first ever Kendal Unity Festival, which is taking place on Saturday 23 June. The exhibition and workshop will be held at the Unitarian Chapel in the town, with the exhibition being on display all day. The workshop will take place at 2pm and last an hour – so please come along (no need to book!)!

The workshop accompanying the exhibition explores the meaning of home, belonging, community and identity.

June 2018


Everyday Lives exhibition opens at The Rosehill Theatre, Whitehaven

An array of guests, made up of those who participa20180108_125306ted in the Hidden Stories project as both interviewees and interviewers, joined us at The Rosehill Theatre, Whitehaven, for the unveiling of the Everyday Lives exhibition in the west of Cumbria.

With speeches from members of the Hidden Stories team, those who volunteered and from artist Jane Dudman, it was a celebration event marking the successes of the project and in particular how it has brought people together to create a rich oral history resource bank.

The exhibition will be at The Rosehill Theatre until the 25th of January.
January 2018


Hidden Stories is celebrated at exhibition launch in Kendal

Supporters of the Hidden Stories Shared Lives project gathered last Thursday to celebrate the achievements of the project and to officially launch the art exhibition that is being held at Kendal Library.

Project officer Gabi Badoti explained, ‘The launch was a fabulous occasion where many of us involved in the project were able to reconnect, share the project’s achievements and reflect on what the journeys and the resources that are coming out of the project mean for Cumbria.20171116_132548

‘Artist Jane Dudman has done a terrific job in interpreting these fascinating life stories and we hope that the people of the South Lakes area will be able to drop into Kendal Library and appreciate the stories of their fellow Cumbrians.’

Andrea Aldridge, who shared her story with the project, spoke from the heart of what it has meant to her to tell of her journey from the US to Cumbria, and the time it has given her to reflect upon her story and understand her story better. Ian Price, who volunteered as an interviewer, explained his motivation for being involved and the skills he learnt and friends he made by being a part of the project.

CDEC Dirctor Katie Carr and Deputy Mayor of Kendal Guy Tirvengadum also shared with the gathering how the project came about and how we worked with our partners. It is evident that this project has created a rich resource bank that can be built upon in the future, to help further share the value of migrants within Cumbria.20171116_133434

The art exhibition, hosted at Kendal Library, explores the stories behind migration to Cumbria and provides a window into the rich and varied factors that led individuals and families to find their place in Cumbria. Cumbrians and visitors to the county will be able to visit the Everyday Life Portraits art exhibition to learn about what caused people to leave the place they were born and how they arrived in Cumbria, revealing their rich and eventful lives.
November 2017


Exhibition coming to Kendal!

We are delighted that the Hidden Stories exhibition is coming to Kendal! The exhibition will be at Kendal Library from 16 November for three weeks, with a launch for invited guests at the Quaker Tapestry Museum on the 16th. 

Please do come along to the library and have a look at the interactive displays; they will reflect the incredible stories of those who’ve travelled from outside the United Kingdom to make their homes in Cumbria.

Cumbrian artist Jane Dudman is working on creating intimate and personal portraits, based on the artistic collaboration with some of our interviewees. We can’t wait to see and experience them!

The exhibition will be at Kendal Library for three weeks before travelling to a venue in the north of the county – keep your eyes open for dates and venues! And once the exhibition is complete, the artefacts will go to form a series of resource boxes that schools can borrow from CDEC to explore these timely and important themes.
October 2017


Workshops have begun!

Workshops based on the Hidden Stories interviews have started to be delivered to Cumbrian school teachers! Project officer Gabi has visited a number of schools who helped support the initiation of the project to share with the teachers the workshops and tool kits that will be available as a legacy of the Hidden Stories project. teachers working on timeline

The primary school teachers were more than enthusiastic to find out the stories behind the pictures Gabi showed them, how the individuals who were interviewed made their way to Cumbria, and how these stories link to the curriculum.

The sessions question our normal assumptions on migration, explore the push and pull factors and help us understand the variety of reasons that people live where they do.  In fact, at one workshop a teacher recalled that ‘this workshop made me think of the current situation and the way migrants and refugees are presented in the media.’

At High Heskett Primary School, the teachers found links to history, literacy, geography and RE, as well as SMSC. They were so enthused by the workshops, and noted to us that the workshop helped them to realise ‘…how important it is for children hear rich, real life stories for understanding and empathy’

Teachers discussing HSFor us, it was lovely to hear one teacher comment, ‘I feel proud that people who had such amazing lives chose Cumbria, where I live, to be their home.’

The twilight CPD workshops are rolling out across Cumbria and we would be delighted to deliver them to your school’s teachers. Please call Gabi at CDEC on 015394 31602 or email her at to book your school’s workshop!
September 2017


Hidden Stories heads to Visualising the Home conference

Jane Dudman, the Hidden Stories artist, together with our project officer had the opportunity to present a paper on the progress of the project to delegates at the Visualising the Home conference at the University of Cumbria.

They presented and discussed the importance of home in the context of migration, how complex the relationship with the concept is in light of so many recent political changes in Europe and the USA. However, the strongest element is the celebration of the hidden stories amongst so many of us who have migrated to Cumbria, and who contribute to making the rich tapestry of life as we know it here.
July 2017


Volunteer interviewees receive expert training

A group of 21 volunteers who will be conducting the Hidden Stories interviews have received expert training from the Oral History Society. Rib Davis and Michelle Winslow both headed to Cumbria to share with us their techniques, skills and  knowledge on how to conduct safe and effective interviews.Training in progress

As well as discussing the values and pitfalls of oral history, our volunteers learnt about how to put their interviewees at ease – easy things like being prompt for their appointment, explaining what will happen during the interview as well as not having any preconceived notions of what the story or the experiences of the interviewee would be.Recording Equipment cropped

Our interviewers have also had training on safeguarding to ensure they understand issues that may arise and how to deal with these instances and the interviewee. We want to ensure that the environment is as safe as possible and that the interviewee is willing to tell what they want to tell, but not to cause stress.

The training sessions concluded with our trainees practising their new skills through role plays and mastering the use of the recording equipment.

Now the training is complete, our skilled volunteer interviewers will be out and about collecting stories from around the county. If you have moved to Cumbria from another country and wish to tell your story, do get in touch with us on 015394 31602.
 May 2017


Hidden Stories Shared Lives is launched!

Lord Dubs attended the Hidden Stories launch  in Allerdale and Copeland at Workington Library on 2nd December. An audience of volunteers and project participants heard about the origins and vision behind the project, before listening to Lord Dubs’ explain why he is supporting Hidden Stories.


Lord Dubs recounted his own experience of arriving in Britain from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, a 6 year old refugee on board the Kindertranpsort scheme, and spoke of the welcome he and others received.

He talked passionately about the humanitarian aspect of the present day refugee crisis: “We are living in important times – there are 65 million refugees and displaced persons in the world, so there’s an awful lot of movement [of people], and we have to play our part.”

Speaking about the Immigration Act amendment he sponsored through Parliament in 2016, he said “The camp [in Calais] was a terrible thing – that people should have to exist in such conditions in a modern continent. What I’d hoped would happen was, in addition to some homeless and very vulnerable, traumatised children finding safety and being able to build their lives, was that attitudes to newcomers would also mellow a bit; that there would be a good spirit with others, that would extend beyond children to other people, and that the welcoming tradition would continue.”  

img_0019He expressed his appreciation for the aims of Hidden Stories saying “What I love is the project you’re doing … I think you’ve got something really important here.”

“It will get people to realise … how we can play our part supporting more vulnerable people than ourselves, showing them some affection, educating people, and taking the message into schools. And as citizens and humanitarian people we want to play our part in doing that.”

Lord Dubs concluded by saying “I think the message you are spreading is a terrific message, because it goes beyond individuals who come here… and influences wider attitudes all over. And I think that’s a great thing. So – congratulations for doing it!”









We are grateful to Lords Dubs for his support and look forward to welcoming him back later in 2017 to hear about the fruits of Hidden Stories and what has been accomplished.
December 2016