Discovery trail coming to Preston this weekend

9 November 2017

UCLan works with local young people on interactive community event

Visitors to Preston City Centre are in for a storytelling treat on Saturday thanks to local young people working with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The Preston Discovery Trail is open on the 11 November from 11.30am – 3.00pm, with stop off points for visitors of all ages to take part in arts based activities and listen to stories from real life young people who have overcome personal challenges.

The four stations, each with a different interactive storytelling machine, will be set up around the city centre in Avenham Park Café, The Harris Museum, Preston Train Station and in the UCLan City base in the St George’s Centre.  The story machines will share compelling accounts of coping with transition, living with a disability, separation from family and difficulties at home, all told through unusual means including an arcade game and a rabbit popping out of a hat.

The event has been organised through UCLan, in conjunction with its Young Researchers group, as part of the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Festival of Social Science national event.

"This festival is a chance for children and young people to take part in some serious fun."

Dr Cath Larkins, Co-Director of the Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation at UCLan, has organised the event.  She said: “This festival is a chance for children and young people to take part in some serious fun. Serious, because social science is an important way that research helps answer big challenges– how we live together in communities and how we can work together to build better futures. Fun because we use art, creativity and digital technologies to think about these questions – hearing and telling stories, creating maps and models, then sharing it all to create a live digital display in the Harris Museum.

“By taking part in this event children and young people can learn more about social sciences, explore what it is like to be a researcher and find out whether they would like to become involved in the opportunities offered by UCLan’s Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation.”

Rosie Winstanley has been a UCLan Young Researcher since it was established five years ago.  The 22-year-old said: “We’ve all worked together to find young people in Lancashire and find interesting ways to share their stories.  I’m really looking forward to Saturday and seeing local people get involved in the project.  Being a young researcher is wonderful and has allowed me to also find myself as I’ve been able to mentor our newer recruits.”

Highlights include a story in a suitcase at Preston Train Station, a story map on Lune Street, and an arcade machine in the Harris with opportunities to connect to young researchers in Japan.  In addition, visitors can become part of the project themselves as they tour around the trail by sending their creations to a live image display at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery.  A free walking tour of Preston will also leave from the Museum at 11.30am.

"It is a wonderful group for my son to belong to. He has been able to meet people and make new friends."

The idea behind the initiative is to encourage young people, children and accompanying adults to consider their own experiences and connections to places in this city and the wider world.  It will also allow the UCLan Young Researchers, a group made up of local teenagers and young adults who meet once a month to plan and carry out research to benefit their communities, to showcase their creations from the AHRC funded research led by Professor Candice Satchwell ( and to demonstrate how arts activities can be used to do social science action research.

Thomas Greeney, who has autism, has been involved with UCLan Young Researchers since 2015.  His mum Helen said it had brought many benefits.

“It is a wonderful group for my son to belong to. He has been able to meet people and make new friends. The Young Researcher interview training helped him tremendously with his communication and conversation skills and has given him the confidence to interact more with other people.

“He was also given the amazing opportunity to fly to Vancouver to take part in a conference and talk to people about the project, something we never dreamed would be possible for Thomas until he joined the group.”

To learn more about the Preston Discovery Trail and register attendance visit  For more information about the Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation follow @TheCentre_UCLan on Twitter and follow #ESRCFestival to see other events taking place during the festival.