Journey to Justice: Dorset
Journey to Justice at Shire Hall Dorset
Friday 27th January 2017 at South Walks House in Dorchester.
Shire Hall, the old Crown Court in Dorchester where the Tolpuddle Martyrs were held and tried, is currently undergoing a major Heritage Lottery Funded redevelopment. It will open in March 2018 as a new historic courthouse museum, with a focus on justice in its broadest sense to include social justice, and encompassing many aspects of past and present law, politics, citizenship and history. Journey to Justice will be Shire Hall’s opening exhibition in 2018 and a major part of one of our HLF activity plan projects, leaving a learning and engagement legacy which we will continue to build on in the future.
Over thirty people came to our taster day at the end of January to find out more about Journey to Justice and Shire Hall’s plans. Representatives from organisations who work with young people, community groups, justice based organisations, faith groups and a good cross section of other interested parties gathered to share ideas and input into our plans.
The aim of the Taster session was to explore how we could link the Journey to Justice exhibition with young people and the history of social justice in Dorset, particularly focusing on the story of The Tolpuddle Martyrs.
Presentations about Shire Hall, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and Journey to Justice were followed by a lively and fascinating series of group discussions and round up session based on the questions, ‘Why is the Tolpuddle Martyrs story relevant to young people today?’ and ‘What are the ‘hooks’ that we can use to link the Tolpuddle Martyrs story to the lives and experiences of young people today?’
A common theme occurring in all the discussions identified the problems young people in Dorset have living in a rural county with little public transport leading to problems with social isolation. This is exacerbated by seasonal and limited job opportunities most of which are zero hours’ contract and minimum wage. In Dorset, there is a significantly wide gap between the ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’. Whilst situated in a ‘chocolate box’ holiday destination county where a large part of the population are over 55 years of age, there are a significant number of areas in the top five most deprived wards in the UK. It was agreed that there are many parallels between the Tolpuddle story and the stories of young people today, and that Journey to Justice would provide an ideal opportunity to work with young people to reflect on and communicate their own stories to a wider public through a range of creative activities.
The final part of the session looked at who could do what to make this happen, the end product of which was a list of people and contacts that were happy to be involved in the development and delivery of Journey to Justice at Shire Hall.
The Taster Day was an incredibly exciting and stimulating session which far exceeded our expectations in terms of the amount of positive interest and responses. We are making good progress on working with partners to develop the ideas and links that were made at the Taster Session and we are really looking forward to Journey to Justice at Shire Hall in 2018.