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Hard To Reach Communities
Is anyone actually ‘hard to reach?’

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Is anyone actually ‘hard to reach?’


In the world of funders, government and NGOs, reports are written and conferences held about people often called ‘hard to reach’ – those who ‘don’t take part’, whether it’s visiting museums, local elections or community projects.

All sorts of people can end up being labelled this way, but ‘hard to reach’ can often mean ‘who is really trying to reach out?’ 

Northern Heartlands has been trialling arts-led approaches, bringing together artists and people who face barriers to participation and activism, or whose voices go unheard.

We work with highly skilled artist-researchers, who use ethnographic methods, creative activities and, most importantly, an openness of approach that builds trust and relationships with people. From trust, people create their own change.

fell gather 1.jpg


Working with the farmers of Weardale & Teesdale by Ewan Allinson

Many farmers of Weardale and Teesdale can trace their connection to the landscape going back generations. 

Colour Farming Images©Louise Taylor/B&W Farming Images©Richard Glynn

Click play to hear the audio that accompanied the exhibition.


With deprivation – More Than Viable

Eldon and Dene Valley are two former mining villages, deemed as Category D and ‘non viable’ by the county council. This is an area of economic deprivation and parts of Eldon were demolished in the 1960s, leaving a semi-waste grassland known as ‘The Hollow’.

Artist and researcher Dr Stephen Pritchard has been working with people here since 2018, creating with them a range of activities and change that they themselves want -  from art works, to a film about their local history, to food growing projects and reclamation of derelict land.

Watch Dr Stephen Pritchard's film More Than Viable 

Download Dr Pritchard's  initial 

 ethnographic research about Willington and Dene Valley

Download David Napthine's Report

On Upper Weardale

Download Ewan Allinson's Report

On Hefted To Hill

Download Dr Pritchard's Report

More Than Viable,


Download a fragment from David Napthine's Fictionalised Report

  A Letter from The North

Listen to a snippet of Ewan Allinson's interview with Hill Farmers  Graham & Sandra

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