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Teenagers' powerful message about life in care

Two teenagers in care who are studying for a National Certificate in Acting and Theatre Performance have written a play about their own experiences, which has been hailed as a "must-see" for those working in the sector.

Please Listen is by Jonny Wilson, 16, and Daryl Shaw, 15, who are taking the certificate as part of their fifth-year curriculum at the Kibble Education & Care Centre in Paisley.

Kibble is Scotland's specialist provider of services for young people, one of its oldest charities, and a leading social enterprise.

The play aims to provide an insight into the lives of young people in care and reveals the benefits as well as the frustrations Jonny and Daryl felt going through the system.

Props and scenery are basic, with the set consisting of four chairs and a black bin bag of clothes to represent the time Jonny was handed a bag of his belongings and told he was going to a new home.

The teenagers have been asked to perform it a further 10 times since its premiere at an international conference on childcare held in Glasgow two months ago.

During performances of Please Listen, the boys are joined on stage by young Scottish star of the hit TV series, Game of Thrones, Daniel Portman, and Gavin Sinclair, creative arts development officer at Kibble Education & Care Centre where Jonny and Daryl are pupils.

The play is followed by a question-and-answer session during which Jonny and Daryl speak candidly to the audience. The boys have been asked to repeat performances for members of the Children's Panel in Glasgow, in schools for teachers' in-service training and at various other conferences and seminars.

Their first performance, at the 12th European Scientific Association on Residential and Foster Care for Children and Adolescents Conference in September, received a standing ovation.

Clare Macaulay, an arts development worker at Glasgow City Council, said the play would have an impact on anyone viewing it: "This striking production conveys the issues and emotions faced by young people more succinctly than any speech could do, and the audience reaction was testament to that."

Kausar Heaney, a team leader at Glasgow City Council's Leaving Care Services, added: "I'm confident it will help to improve the way we work."

Following a performance to members of Glasgow's Children's Panel, Alan Hughes, one of the organisers, said: "It wasn't just a great performance, it was a very powerful one, and the members took a lot of what the guys had to say to heart."

Jonny said: "At the start I wasn't really up for doing the play because it brought back a lot of memories. But I learned to deal with that and, if I'm able to make someone else's life a bit better through the play, it will have been worth it. This is an opportunity to change people's opinions and make a difference to the lives of kids in care."

Gavin Sinclair said: "The play will open the eyes of professionals in the care sector. The boys' message is pretty simple and that is to listen to what they have to say and don't give up on young people like them.

"Since they have written and started performing the play, the boys' confidence as performers and as people has gone through the roof. They have become much more articulate at expressing their feelings and feel more positive about their future.

"The feedback has been unbelievable."

Graham Bell, Kibble chief executive, said: "The issues raised in Please Listen get right to the heart of service delivery, and the very moving and powerful message conveyed by the boys offers a valuable and alternative means of raising awareness and understanding for all the professionals involved in this process."

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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