The claes line

The clothesline activity looks at the forms of violence we perpetrate or that are committed against us or surround us, and how to break the cycle of violence and hurt.

What you will need

You will need...

Timing: 40mins

  • 1 x old pairs of shoes
  • A roll of string and tape
  • Clothes pegs
  • 2 x plain white t-shirt (or flip-chart sheets with an outline of a t-shirt on it)
  • 2 x sheets of flip-chart
  • Sticky notes
  • Markers or fabric pens


Start by...

For this activity, take an old pair of shoes (preferably something a young person would wear).

Explain that the shoes represent someone who was violently attacked. Pass the shoes around to anyone willing to hold them and ask the group to narrate a story about who they think wore the shoes. Violence includes emotional, physical, and sexual violence. 

Middle bit...

From there get the group involved in setting up a clothesline across the room. Pin the t-shirts or flip chart onto the line with the pegs.

Invite the group to take pens or sticky notes to pin their thoughts on each shirt as follows:

  1. An example of someone hurting another person
  2. An example of them being hurt by someone else

At the end the shirts will be covered with their thoughts on hurting and being hurt.

End by...

Place the shoes under the t-shirt for someone hurting another person.

Invite group members to reflect on what everyone has written down.

Then take turns to place your shoes under the other t-shirt and talk about what it feels like when you get hurt by someone else. You only need to do this if you feel comfortable.

Think about what we can do to stop each other, or other people in our families and communities from fear and hurt.

Explain that research in Scotland found that young people who had experienced violence or trauma in childhood were much more likely to be involved in violence and/or offending, but it doesn't have to be that way.

You are welcome to watch the video by James Docherty who has lived experience of violence. He clearly explains the connections between childhood trauma, addiction, violence and the ongoing damage that can be caused by policies.

What have we learned from doing this exercise? Invite group members to identify one thing they want to change having experienced this activity.

Remember: make time for people at the end that may want a private chat or are looking for more support.

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