FAMILY MATTERS: Help to believe in yourself

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A This is England actress has dedicated her spare time to boosting confidence in young people in Parson Cross, writes Rachael Clegg

CONFIDENCE in children is key to a healthy life, stable friendships, loving relationships and personal fulfilment, experts believe.

However, unfortunately, some children are endowed with less than others when it comes to expressing themselves or thinking creatively and a lack of confidence can be a barrier to a happier life.

The importance of confidence in children and young people has been acknowledged by experts for decades. It is, after all, the foundation on which the development of all other skills is built.

And it is this which has motivated This Is England actress Stacey Sampson to dedicate a chunk of her time to helping young people in Parson Cross in Sheffield take part in an ambitious drama, poetry and film project.

“It’s been fantastic,” she says. “Young people have really engaged with the project. It’s been lots of fun but the main thing is that the young people have developed confidence.”

The project - known as the Parson Cross Youth Media Collective - started 12 months ago. It takes place in community centres across Parson Cross and helps young people from the age of six to 18 work with drama, film and words as an outlet for their creative energy.

More than 75 young people have taken part in the project over the past 12 months and this Saturday the project celebrates its hard work with a screening of some of the films produced by the children and young people.

The project was commissioned by Parson Cross Library and funded by Clore Duffield Foundation, which was established by the late post war businessman and philanthropist Sir Charles Clore in 1964. The Foundation helps supports young people in the arts.

And the effort has been worth it, according to Stacey.

“When young people feel confident they can be more creative,” she says.

“It’s been lovely hearing young people say ‘I didn’t know I could do that’, after finishing a project. But creativity can exist on its own, it’s just that people need an outlet.”

One of the themes the young people worked on was ‘where I come from’, which allowed them to talk about their heritage.

Stacey says: “The ‘where I come from’ project allowed young people to be open about their backgrounds. Some may have said something like ‘I come from potato smiling faces’, or ‘I come from a two-up, two-down’.

“This was centred around getting the young people to explore their own heritage and identities and getting them to think about what it’s like growing up on an estate like Parson Cross in 2012.

“Most of them were really positive but some said that it made them anxious living there. It was good that they felt they could be open like that.”

The work has encouraged young people to communicate with people of all ages.

“It’s taught them teamwork and inter-generational communication. But mainly it’s about not being afraid to get out there. The fact the majority of the young people are so much more confident now after taking part in the project means they can really flourish in life,” she said.

Parenting expert Eileen Hayes says a child with confidence has the courage to try new things, make new friends and form healthier relationships later in life.

And now, thanks to the Parson Cross Youth Media Collective, there are at least 75 children and young people who are now feeling more confident than they did 12 months ago.