Ignite Theatre are using drama to help young people become more resilient

Published on 10.05.21

Over here on the blog we’ve been sharing the stories of the fantastic charities that received funding from our Covid-19 Relief Fund. We’ve loved hearing how Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS) and Rape Crisis Grampian (RCG) have helped young minds feel better during the pandemic and beyond.

This is Ignite Theatre’s story, who thanks to your support received a Tiny Changes grant in 2020.

A group of 16 people of different ages, ethnicities and genders, sitting and standing together and smiling. Ignite Theatre

Ignite Theatre was founded in 2010 by a group of asylum seekers and refugees in North Glasgow and now provide creative workshops for young people aged 4-24.  When Ignite first started, parents of the refugee children were quite scared to let their kids outside, so Ignite took them in, providing drama and performance workshops for them, and the company has continued to grow ever since.

Now, they are a very diverse and inclusive youth theatre, not only open to refugees and asylum seekers, but to all young people in the area who need an outlet for their personal development. Some of the young people at Ignite are carers; looking after family members, some have mental health issues and some live in poverty.

Ignite Theatre support children and young people through drama, using theatre to increase their confidence and open them up to new opportunities. Through Ignite members become more resilient; learning how to cope with adversity and take care of themselves.

It was really difficult to see young people who already have such a hard time being affected by the pandemic.

Kim, Ignite

Ignite Theatre is a special place - a safe space where young people can go every week and know they’re not being judged.

Before Covid-19, children and young people attended Ignite twice a week at a local community centre. However, when Covid-19 hit, the community centre closed to the public and they were unable to use the space. Like many organisations they wondered how they were going to continue their work, but they knew they had to keep in contact with their young people.

Aware that a lot of the young people didn’t have access to gardens or outdoor spaces they quickly set up weekly, online meetings with them just to check-in and ask what was going on in their head. They noticed that the stress and anxiety levels of the children and young people increased as they worried about what was happening at school and work.

A black girl with braids laughing at the camera. Ignite Theatre.

A big issue was that some of the young people didn’t have access to the internet at home.

They would stand outside of the community centre where Ignite used to meet, to connect to the wifi. This soon became a social distanced mask-to-mask meeting in the car park. Here, Ignite could check in with the young people and hand out care packages. The younger kids received colouring-in books, pens and art materials and for the older kids, ‘Happy Journals’ and nice candles to use at home. The Happy Journals were a diary where each day they could highlight one good thing that happened – to help them stay positive and keep their minds focussed.

Tiny Changes funding enabled Ignite to stay connected and support the minds of their young people.

The funding made an amazing difference. It allowed us to give the young people the specialist support that they needed like an occupational therapist. We as staff aren’t experts, and we were also anxious ourselves, so with the funding, we were able to get somebody in who had more expertise in supporting us.

A group of young people sitting around a table doing an activity. Their faces cannot be seen. Ignite Theatre.

Ignite organised some online sessions with an occupational therapist who taught the young people some techniques on how to deal with stress and anxiety. They did lots of breathing and relaxation exercises and found it was very beneficial.

During the Black Lives Matter solidarity protests a lot of older members had returned to Ignite. They felt very affected by the movement and so during lockdown an adult support group was formed to give them a space to discuss and share their feelings.

For us, it was really important that we stayed connected. If we hadn’t been in contact with the young people, we feel that we’d have to give them a lot more support to help them recover from the stresses and anxieties of the pandemic.

Three young people sitting together, holding pieces of paper and laughing. Ignite Theatre.

What's next

Ignite is always looking for new members and young people. An advantage of being on Zoom is that anyone across the city of Glasgow can attend. They particularly support young people of the BME community, but anyone can join, they’re a very diverse and we’re non-judgemental group. 

They have a lot of young people who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, Ignite is a space for people of all gender identities and sexualities, and other young people who might not feel at home at other youth theatres. Their focus isn’t on making the best theatre, it’s about listening to young people and their emotions and helping them to feel more confident.

Contact Ignite via their website or social media to get involved. 

To help young minds feel better, and fund more projects like this one click here to donate to Tiny Changes.

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