Local unemployed people find their voices in new workshop at East Riding Theatre

By East Riding of Yorkshire Council | Posted: 7 Aug 2018

East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Employment, Education and Skills Team has joined up with East Riding Theatre’s Artist in Residence – She Productions – to deliver an innovative training course for local unemployed people.

The Finding Your Voice Programme is designed to build confidence, communication, social and creative skills for local unemployed people. It was a three-week programme of activities that culminated in an informal ‘performance’ to an audience of family and friends at East Riding Theatre on Thursday, 19 July.

The drama-based workshops were developed by She Productions over the past three years to help to develop people’s communication, confidence and social skills. The council’s employment, education and skills team were looking to work with a local partner and develop an innovative approach to employability training and helping local residents to move on in life and work.

Annie Kirkman from She Productions said: “Here at She we believe that drama is not just about ‘being an actor’, the exercises we use within our outreach programmes are designed to develop life skills by building trust, challenging social expectations and commending courage. We are constantly adapting our workshops to who we are working with and this particular group have inspired us to not only think about ‘finding your voice’ but ‘finding you’, through whatever form of expression you choose.”

Jackie Langley, East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s external funding and development manager, said: “We are always looking at creative ways that we can help our clients in the East Riding to overcome barriers to moving on in life and work. We believe that working in partnership and offering creative subjects like drama help people to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. We often see clients with pretty emotional stories and backgrounds exhilarated after taking part in these workshops – people with a renewed sense of purpose and a much more positive outlook for what lies ahead.”  

Holly North, 18, from Hessle, has been getting support from the team for some months and she is embracing new experiences in order to increase her confidence skills and ultimately find work.

She said:  “The live performance was very different to our rehearsals. Once the audience started clapping I felt amazing.  I’ve never done anything like this before and it was nerve wracking, but I feel really proud of my achievement.”

Adam Lloyd, 26, from Bridlington, works as a volunteer at East Riding Theatre and is also getting employability support from the council’s employment, education and skills team. He’s looking to move to Beverley so that he can be nearer his social network and get a job.

He said: “The workshops and live performance have really improved my self esteem. I feel that I can take a lot of what I’ve learned from the experience into my next step which will be great. I felt incredible with the reaction from the performance. I felt a lot of energy and emotion and the reaction from the audience really helped.”

Julie Redpath, 53, from Bridlington, has had support from the team for a number of months and has achieved new maths and English qualifications. Her next step is to find a job which she feels much more confidence about.

She said: “I found my part in the live production really hard and I didn’t think that I could get through it without crying. The whole experience has been very emotional for me, but I finally feel like I have found me!”

Phil Bolderson, 33, from Bridlington, has been working with the team to get support for healthy living. He’s now getting active and increasing his fitness levels supported by the team.

He said: “If anyone had said to me that I’d be performing on stage five months ago, I’d have thought that they were joking! It’s been a really positive and enjoyable experience and I’ve loved working with the team. I feel a lot more confident and it’s surprising what you can achieve with incredible positive encouragement.”

Councillor Andy Burton, cabinet portfolio holder for economic investment and planning delivery, said: “Providing our residents with the confidence and skills to secure employment and support them to develop careers is an important part of the council’s work to boost the local economy.

“The Finding Your Voice initiative is an excellent example of how the public and private sector can work together to help local people get on in life and we would like to thank East Riding Theatre for their contribution in making this programme a success.”

The council delivers a wide range of specialist employment, education and skills support for residents of the East Riding. Support is not just designed to help people find work, but to help them to move on in life and make their future brighter in the long term.

Support is delivered from a variety of locations including the four adult learning centres in the East Riding – Beverley, Bridlington, Cottingham and Goole

For more information about support available, visit www.eastriding.gov.uk/learn or call the Beverley Adult Learning Centre on (01482) 887670.

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