Help for Sheffield’s disadvantaged and vulnerable through performing arts

Youngsters take to the stage
Youngsters take to the stage

Reaching out to young disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Sheffield is a performing arts organistion.

Reaching out to young disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Sheffield is a performing arts organistion.

Sessions gives young people the chance to express themselves

Sessions gives young people the chance to express themselves

The award-winning A Mind Apart company gives accessible and professional training in performing arts for anyone aged from five to adulthood.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, the group is about the launch a new initiative from its Hillsborough base and is reaching out for more people to get involved.

Managing director Jodie Marshall explained how A Mind Apart came into being.

“It all started in 2008, originally from my university course in Lincoln, I studied drama and did a vocational course which I then piloted.”

Once she completed her studies Jodie returned to Sheffield and started to run evening classes, very quickly needing to bring in colleague Natasha Hargrove to help with the growing numbers, and it built from there.

Jodie said: “As a social enterprise, we make our sessions available and accessible to all, with a focus on growing confidence and self-esteem whilst giving professional training in drama, acting, singing and dancing. The success of our work can be seen in students getting accepted into top drama schools and universities and getting paid work within the industry.

“Our services include after school clubs, evening classes, working with young people not in education and international gap year training programmes. We aim to develop creativity and growth, whilst preparing individuals to become professionals in the creative industry.”

As well as courses and workshops, A Mind Apart last year piloted its first ‘alternative prom’ which was for young people in years ten to 12 that wouldn’t be likely to attend their own prom for a number of reasons, be-it because they were carers, had learning needs, were uncomfortable in social circles, unable to afford a prom outfit.

“It was open to all to come as they wanted,” said Jodie. “One boy came as a girl, one came in a tracksuit, it was a huge success, so we’re going to do that again.”

Coming up next month is the re-launch of a youth group called Redirection.

Jodie explained: “Redirection started in Pitsmoor to provide something for those hanging about on the streets, it gradually developed into a youth theatre and then we moved it to Hillsborough.

“After 12 to 18 months we reviewed and saw that the vulnerable kids that were coming to us had needs that were so much higher that we needed to split the group so we had a youth theatre and then Redirection.”

The new session will be run by a training drama therapist and the long term goal is that the sessions will become more therapeutic giving the kids the chance to express themselves.

“Some come from complicated backgrounds, they can be full of emotion and sometimes can’t handle them,” added Jodie.

“Our sessions help them to realign their emotions in a much more positive way which then leads to more positive life choices.

“We look at scenarios they could experience on the street and we role play these, using performance and drama they start to understand more about themselves.”

The new Redirection session will take place every Friday between 4.30pm and 5.30pm in the A Mind Apart Studio, at The Burton Street Foundation, Hillsborough. The first is on March 2 and is open to anyone aged 13 and over.

It is not compulsory, but the organisers ask for a £3 donation, and people can just turn up if they wish.

Jodie said: “We offer a safe space where individuals can practically and physically explore how to make better life choices, share stresses and learn how to build positive relationships.

“All staff have experience with studnets with disabilites, vulnerable students, at risk of sexual explotation, looked after children and affected by crime.”

Anyone interested in getting involved can check out the group’s website at www.amindpart.org.uk, visit the Facebook page, email info@amindapart.org.uk or telephone 0114 2321172.