A Christmas Catch-up!

There is no denying the past term has been incredibly busy at Unique Voice, so much so that I’ve struggled to find the time to write my blogs; but as Christmas draws near and services begin to be wrapped up for the festive season, I wanted to mark the end of 2013 with a blog to celebrate all that’s happened in the past few weeks.

It probably makes sense to begin by talking about Triple R- a tour which has definitely dominated this term. With three different anti-bullying shows and workshops the team has visited 16 schools, done 26 performances and delivered a staggering 83 workshops… all in four and a half weeks!

While it was certainly hard work, it was also an incredibly enjoyable experience. For one thing, we worked with such a wonderfully rich range of students, who all made each workshop incredibly unique for the team. It was such a pleasure to see them get such enjoyment out of the sessions, whilst also seeing them learn, consider and debate the issues presented to them in both the performance and within the workshops.

Whilst bullying remains to be something we hear about regularly- in particular the increasing number of cyberbullying cases- the students we met on the tour spoke passionately and emotively about what they and others could do to prevent this.

They showed empathy, compassion, logic, determination and drive with regards to taking the messages from the sessions to help combat bullying in a way specific to their school or experiences.

Day after day the team were overwhelmed with how articulate these young people were, and the large number of disclosures we received confirmed just how vital this work really is.

One of my personal highlights from this term has got to be my involvement with ‘My Hidden Sentence’ a project Unique Voice has been working on with Barnardo’s which focusses on children of offenders. We performed at a number of twilight sessions for school and council staff with a short play inspired by some of the wonderful young people Barnardo’s have worked with. To have their input, and indeed to meet them, was incredibly humbling and only drove my desire to do justice to this project.

I’ll be honest- before I became involved with the project I’d never really given much thought to children who may have a parent in prison- but when you look at the facts- that 200,000 children every year will experience a parent in prison- it’s certainly time that we do start considering their circumstances and needs.

As is always the case, after school clubs have been going in full swing in the lead up to Christmas. This term many of the children have excelled themselves in terms of their performance skills, teamwork and creativity. Looking ahead to 2014 I will be moving away from after school clubs and although excited for what lies ahead, there is no denying I will miss these clubs and indeed the children I have got to know so well (particularly those from St Pius where I have been for over two years now). Each and every one of them is so wonderfully unique and it has been a privilege to work with them for so long, to watch their confidence grow and to see them flourish within drama club. I am so proud of what each of them has achieved, and for me this reflects one of Unique Voice’s greatest successes. I’m not denying or belittling the positive impact tour visits can have in students, but seeing first hand how beneficial drama sessions can be in terms of improving confidence, teamwork and a child’s self esteem is simply wonderful. I mean, you can’t ask for more job satisfaction than that.

Merry Christmas, and all the best for 2014.


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