Doncaster youths team up with poet for arts project

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Youngsters who are living in care got the chance to express themselves during a unique workshop with famed British poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE.

Boys and girls cared for by Doncaster Children’s Services Trust were invited along to Doncaster’s Cast theatre for a creative session aimed at helping them to express their artistic flair and boost confidence.

They worked on arts projects and Lemn spoke to them about his own background.

He told the youngsters how shortly after his birth, he was fostered by a family in Lancashire but when he was aged 12, his foster parents placed him into a children’s home.

From the age of 12, Lemn was housed in a total of four children’s homes.

He told the young audience how he released his first book of poetry in 1988 at the age of 21 and has been a full-time writer, performing internationally ever since.

Sarah Clough, Cast’s head of participation, said she hopes the young people who attended were inspired by Lemn’s story and his rise to prominence.

She added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to work with an award-winning poet and broadcaster who is himself a care leaver with a unique story and a passionate advocate for children in care.

“We look forward to working closer with Doncaster Children’s Services Trust and Lemn Sissay to develop more transformative projects like this.”

Lemn is associate artist at Southbank Centre, patron of The Letterbox Club and The Reader Organisation, ambassador for The Children’s Reading Fund, trustee of Forward Arts Foundation and inaugural trustee of World Book Night and an honorary doctor of Letters.

Cast works in partnership with several Doncaster organisations to target those deemed to be the least engaged members of the community, specifically those who suffer from high levels of social, economic and cultural deprivation, and those at risk of social exclusion.

As part of this Cast is to launch a new Youth Theatre programme in January 2017.

A theatre spokesperson said: “Cast will continue to work with Doncaster Children’s Services Trust and Lemn Sissay on future projects aimed at exploring stories from different cultures and groups who aren’t currently engaging in the arts.”

As part of the Youth Theatre, Little Lights for ages eight to 11 will meet on Saturdays from 10am to 11.15am, Spotlights for ages 11 to 14 meet Wednesdays 5.30pm to 7.15pm and Floodlights for ages 14 to 16 meet Saturdays from 11.30am to 12.45pm.

For more information about joining any of the three groups ring the Cast theatre box office on 01302 303 959 or visit https://castindoncaster.com/cast-youth-theatre