17 June 2010

A Northamptonshire drama group is set to launch a short film challenging stereotypes and negative portrayals of children and young people in the care system.

Expressions Drama Group, which is made up of young people who have been in care or receiving social care support, interviewed celebrities about their experience of growing up in the care system for a ten-minute documentary Better Than You Think.

Members of Expressions interviewed broadcaster David Akinsanya and poet and playwright Lemn Sissay as part of the short film which also incorporates an original drama, devised by the drama group.

Expressions Artistic Director Annie West said: “Expressions’ members have created an important drama-documentary in Better Than You think that carries a clear message that children and young people from care backgrounds can and do succeed. This film is a testament to that and the young people should feel very proud of themselves.”

David Akinsanya, who presented the Channel 4 series Find Me a Family, told the group: “I’m always really happy to talk to young people about what it was like for me to be in care. I think it’s very important that I don’t forget where I come from, so I like to do interviews about being in care.”

Lemn Sissay, poet-in-residence at London’s Southbank Theatre, said: “Well, I would say I had a bad experience in care but that doesn’t mean to say that I’m bad. So bad things happened around me; I had to move into lots of different children’s homes and had some terrible foster parents but I knew that I was good and that’s the most important thing to me.”

Expressions hope to change people’s perception of children and young people in care by sharing their achievements throughout the documentary. The film will be placed on Northamptonshire County Council’s Children’s Rights website so other young people will be able to view the film.

Additional quotes:

Paul Burnett, corporate director for children and young people at Northamptonshire County Council, said: “It certainly isn’t true that the majority of young people are getting into trouble but that is the perception that exists and is perpetuated by negative media portrayals of young people.”

Jodie Low, Participation Officer at Northamptonshire County Council’s children’s’ rights team said: “Expressions is an invaluable group open to vulnerable children and young people. It’s delivered by high quality professionals who inspire and motivate its talented and passionate members. Seeing the commitment and the work of the group is inspirational.”

The drama group has received support from Media Box, Northamptonshire County Council, Aim Higher and Royal & Derngate.