£10,000 Big Lottery Fund grant sends students to arts camp

Last week, 32 Values Academy students and 15 mentors and carers descended upon Ingestre Hall Residential Arts Centre in Staffordshire, thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Our students spent a week taking part in a bespoke, week-long multi-arts programme – the experience of a lifetime for many of our young people.

They took part in a programme that included music, dance, drama, technology and visual arts in a beautiful, historic building in the countryside.

Young people from Values Academy don’t often get the opportunity to spend time in a place like Ingestre Hall, so we’re really excited about their trip and the opportunities it will give them.

The students worked with a group of learning disabled qualified arts professionals in a safe and supportive environment, and took part in the Arts Council’s Discovery Arts Award qualification.

The informal, less structured environment of Ingestre Hall was a new experience for many of our students and we’re hoping they got a real, practical insight into a different way of doing things. The idea is that our young people develop confidence, greater motivation and increased self-esteem. And, of course, they’ve broadened their horizons, built independent working skills, worked on improving their behaviour and taken part in productive team work.

The trip also gave them the opportunity to learn in different ways, which may suit them very well.

We decided to send our students to Ingestre Hall because we can’t always deliver everything we want to within the school grounds and curriculum. This type of bespoke, specialist workshop and activity week is best done elsewhere, and Ingestre Hall was ideal.

Pupils and staff took part in discussions to decide what and where the students would go.

The project they’ll be working on addresses the life inequalities of young people in care and their experiences when they leave care: poor education, homelessness, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, crime and the criminal justice system.

It gives our young people a chance to become involved in something they might not otherwise experience, and helps them to aspire to more and better than they might otherwise have hoped for.

The funding we’ve received has enabled us to remove the financial barriers our students would have faced when trying to do something like this outside school.

The trip was a great success, and students welcomed their positive experiences away from home or care, and away from the more formal school environment. At the end of the week, we all celebrated individual strengths and group achievements together.

Friendships were strengthened and new bonds were created; students tried out and experienced a range of new activities and emotions in a safe and supportive environment; and they came away from their week more resilient and with higher self-esteem.

To find out more about Ingestre Hall and what we got up to there, click here.