SSF on Mental Health Awareness Day

Doing the Festival at such a difficult time made me realise that I can do anything I put my mind to, no matter the forces against me.”

We believe that every young person is valuable and has something amazing to offer society.

“Right now the world can seem a divided, polarised and socially uncomfortable place to live. Young people report low levels of societal cohesion and do not perceive themselves to be worthy, valuable and responsible members of society. They are frustrated with a lack of fairness, belonging and opportunity and resent the unrealistic expectations of their parents’/grandparents’ generations, who lived in a different world to the one they experience every day.”(source: Young People and Community Cohesion, Department for Education, 2010).

There is strong evidence that participation in the arts contributes to community cohesion, reduces social exclusion and isolation, and makes communities feel safer and stronger (source: “The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society” Arts Council, 2014).

Indeed, our Festival legacy over eighteen years shows how powerful it is when children from very different backgrounds come together to perform on the same stage.

Our 2018 Festival is themed as the Season of Democracy, where we instill ideas of equality and responsibility. Everyone should have a voice, be an active citizen and play a valuable role. We have embedded this ethos into all our work from our teacher training in June to the performance nights coming up this autumn. We want to ensure these values reach well beyond the rehearsal room and into the school’s wider community, including parents and guardians.

We know that the creative arts have a positive impact on mental health and character education. The Festival has a demonstrable impact beyond Shakespeare and the English and drama curricula – it improves concentration, engagement with school, social cohesion and confidence. Most importantly, our active and creative approach expands children's personal and cultural horizons.

As a result of taking part in the 2017 Festival:

  • 99% of teachers agreed that their student’s confidence increased
  • 96% of teachers said their students were more resilient
  • 99% of audience members said the performance positivity changed the perception of young people in the community.

SSF’s inclusive ethos and flexible approach allows students of all abilities to flourish. Young people with profound communication challenges and mental health difficulties find that the process breaks down barriers and gives them a new outlook on life.

Every year we hear compelling evidence that the Festival has made a difference. An alumni of the Festival who took part in 2013 at The Artrix Bromsgrove, got in touch to tell us how the journey helped her:

“I took part whilst I was really struggling with my mental health. Taking part in the Festival gave me not only a distraction and something to look forward to, but a coping method and a communication with a team of people who really cared. My drama family helped and supported me through so much and I wouldn’t have even come into contact with a lot of them if it wasn’t for the Festival.

Doing the Festival at such a difficult time made me realise that I can do anything I put my mind to, not matter the forces against me.”

A London secondary school teacher told us how much the Festival had transformed the self-esteem of a student who had previously been struggling:

“One student was bordering on being permanently excluded from our school for his very poor behaviour. I dragged him into this show as he has innate talent. It has saved him, given him a purpose, and a sense of belonging. We are all rather overwhelmed by how well he has done and the positive impact it has had on him. The show and this SSF experience has literally made the world of difference to him and has given him the self-worth he was lacking.”

In this year’s Festival we are encouraging everyone to use our birthday hashtag - #BreakthroughShakespeare. Whether a moment, experience or feeling, share what Shakespeare, Shakespeare Schools Foundation or our annual Festival has done for you.

Tell us how you interpret #BreakthroughShakespeare and why the arts matter today.






Coram SSF is a cultural education charity that exists to instil curiosity and empathy, aspiration and self-esteem, literacy and teamwork - giving young people the confidence to see that all the world is their stage.

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