Paige Stears, engagement coordinator at the Lowry Theatre, Salford, works with targeted groups of young people who may have had adverse life experiences.
The Lowry Charity Trust collects donations so that a group of young people can do creative projects that aim to improve their wellbeing and further their aspirations.
The Arts for Social Change work is funded primarily by the Lowry meaning they have access to transport for trips and they can have high-quality artists come in and work with the young people.
The programme is completely free for it’s participants.
Stears started her journey at the Lowry as a young carer. As she grew older she saw the opportunity to be a supporter for other young carers and four years later is still loving the job.
The group meets every Monday. At the beginning of the term, the young people decide what they would like to talk about and that issue becomes the theme for the production.
They talk about what skills they can use and what issues are going on in their lives and then find a way to interpret that into theatre.
The group have performed in a play called “Who cares?” which toured across the UK three times, they’ve raised awareness for young carers by putting on performances in the Lowry and they’ve created animations that are sent over to schools to show children and teachers what they do.
As it’s coming up to Christmas the group have finished for the term, however, they are already working on another theatre piece for the New Year.
Stears says: “It’s really important, first of all, for young people to have access to the arts, it’s a really accessible platform for them to express themselves.
For our young carers, it’s also really important for them to advocate for themselves. They are the expert on what goes on in their lives and it’s significant for them to have a platform where their voices can be amplified and people can see them.”
She adds: “They can use it as a tool to shout about all the things that they’re proud of and all the things that they need to change. It is really fantastic that a lot of our young people find it like a rest bite.”
“The Lowry is always behind the young people. If they need support, even when I’m at home, they know they can access us and there is a level of support that we offer, further than just being an arts organisation.
We will go and meet the social workers with them if that’s appropriate. We are going into schools to talk to the teachers if that’s what they need. We link up with their other support networks, just to give them that 360.”
At the end of their Christmas shows, each year, the group does a Christmas appeal. This is where they shake buckets in hope of raising funds to support the young people.
If you want to find out more about the Arts for Social Change programme, click here.