Invisible Palace is a charity based in South East London which brings people from a whole range of backgrounds together through shared interests for collective activity. Working across the five boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, in the neighbourhoods that surround Crystal Palace Park.
Invisible Palace creates activities which are active and practical, with an emphasis on experiential learning that is rooted in the story of the local area and people’s place within it. 
The work of Invisible Palace takes a participant led approach, with the small team developing and running activities championing the needs of those taking part and creating programmes which respond to this need on a local and individual level. People are brought together in a community of interest rather than having their demographic background or life stage be the main factor in defining them. 
March 2023 to March 2024
Sculptures of crystal palace park project
The Sculptures of Crystal Palace Park project had the ambition to reveal the hidden histories of the sculptures in Crystal Palace Park through a co-creative process involving local people and targeted participants who may have become isolated during the pandemic and may have lost confidence in social or cultural settings. The project built on a successful social media series developed for lockdown that began raising the profile of overlooked sculptures in Crystal Palace Park. 
The project began in August 2021 but spring 2022 marked a turning point when work done by volunteer researchers was passed on to design volunteers to begin the process of interpreting and sharing the research.
This year the project focused on creative responses to the statues.
Over 220 people got involved.
We worked with creative practitioners Dawn Pereira artist and researcher, Manasi Pophale from History Speak, Fae Kilburn printmaker, Theresa Lola poet, and Mikey Lynam performer and writer.
Organisations that got involved include Crystal Palace Park Trust, Crystal Palace Museum, Community Vision Children and Families Centre, Lambeth Young Carers, u3a Croydon, Halal Tourism Britain, A Little History of the Sikhs.
Feedback from people taking part
I enjoyed myself 98%
I have learnt something new 96%
I have a greater understanding of the heritage of the local area 90%
I feel inspired 85%
Taking part has made me feel uplifted 88%
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage fund with additional funding for work on the statues on the Upper Terrace from the Mayor of London Untold Stories.
Defy Gravity Social Circus
The Defy Gravity Social Circus programme began in Summer 2019 in partnership with My Aerial Home with a small grant from Mayor of London Culture Seeds. Since then the programme has developed and responded to feedback from those taking part.
The current annual programme consists of 30 after school club sessions, taster sessions at My Aerial Home for youth groups, an intensive 4 session course for a school during the summer term, and follow on sessions for young people at My Aerial Home. This programme has been funded by the National Lottery Community Fund since March 2023.
Between March 2023 and December 2023 107 young people got involved with this project.
Community gardening activities
In 2018 Invisible Palace planted up a new scheme at the Boundaries Gate in Crystal Palace Park, known as the Vicar's Oak scheme it was created as part of an Invisible Palace project.
Since then Invisible Palace volunteers have looked after the flowerbeds at Boundaries Gate as well as other parts of the park along the Anerley Hill edge.
Volunteer comments
Gardening and working with other people has given me pleasure and helped me to connect with other gardening enthusiast, feeling less isolated during the pandemic
I've been working with the group for almost 2 years and I find it lovely to take care of the green spaces and also create friendships in the area.
The garden is beautiful in every season. I love watching the changes. Volunteering here is often the highlight of the week. Getting involved with the people and nature in a friendly but controlled and safe environment is a real tonic. Honestly it has been a saviour during COVID. Thank you!
Passer-by comments
Superb - good work! Brightens up the palace experience - lovely addition - thank you!!
I love this community garden. It always cheers me up when I pass it. I love the selection of plants and the countryside feel it gives. You are doing a great job with it. Please don't stop.
Beautiful Garden! Inspires others into gardening! THANK YOU!
Principles for inclusive co-creative practice
1. Access ingrained and embedded: Attention to the details of people’s needs and where they are coming from, with access considerations built in at every stage and the starting point for all planning.
2. Consistent structures for capturing content: Establishing a framework to consistently capture and filter content which is led by what comes up from participants and feeds into how decisions are made on content and direction.
3. Equity and responsiveness: Listening and responding to where the group are at and adjusting activity in line with their needs and interests, giving flexibility to follow up on an idea, genuinely making time for difference and valuing ways of doing things and ensuring project activity is responsive, connective and audience led.
4. Pace: Making room for different paces within activities and leaving room for those who need more time to get an idea and build confidence.
5. Relatable subject matter: Focusing on visual, tangible stimulus and human subject matter which people can relate to, giving permission for people to open up emotionally and have personal reflections within the wider narratives being explored.
6. Valuing different knowledge and expertise: Valuing of different knowledge and expertise ranging from personal experience to academic knowledge, with no weighting of value in one particular direction in recognition that each type of knowledge enriches the project and one does not work without the other.
7. Socially engaged practitioners: Working alongside experienced practitioners with skills in socially engaged practice who are keen observers and able to adapt to people’s needs. 
8. Core community partners: Building sustained relationships with a small network of community partners to enable reach and maintain contact with a breadth of local people who might not engage without the encouragement of the familiar organisation they already connect with.
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