Charity’s musical is a runaway success


A South Yorkshire charity took to the stage to highlight the dangers young people face when running away from home.

The performance of Oliver!was the first time Dinnington-based Safe@Last has attempted a musical production.

The idea was the brainchild of Hilary Massarella, who founded the organisation in 2009.

She said: “Oliver! was a clear choice for us. It’s the story of a little boy in Victorian times who ran away from an abusive situation and has so many parallels with young people at risk through running away in our modern world.

“Oliver’s vulnerability to dodgy characters within hours of being alone on the streets, the speed at which he was enticed into a life of crime, the domestic violence he witnessed as Nancy was badly treated by Bill Sikes are all themes our project workers hear about on a daily basis.”

The sell-out show at The Lyric Theatre, Dinnington, raised funds for Safe@Last’s services in safeguarding children and young people in South Yorkshire.

However, Hilary said the main benefit was raising awareness that the troubles faced by the young people the charity supports are not that distant from the troubles Oliver faces.

Tracy Haycox, Safe@Last children and young people’s services director, said: “When our education officers visit schools and our project workers work with young people one to one, it’s common for us to use stories of famous runaways to illustrate the dangers of being on the street.

“We often choose the story of Oliver because some of the young people we work with present some of the issues we see in the story around getting involved in gangs, being exploited and of course running away.”