Dancing their way out of trouble into success
Friday, 08 March 2013
An innovative dance project run by Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Youth Offending team is getting national recognition at two prestigious events in London next week
On Monday 11 March, HRH The Princess Royal will be presenting representatives from The Wessex Dance Academy with a Commendation at the Butler Trust Annual Awards at Buckingham Palace.
Wessex Dance Academy aims to transform the lives of young people, aged 14 - 18, who have offended or are at risk of offending, have been excluded from mainstream education, or are looked after children. It is run by Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Youth Offending Team, in conjunction with professional dance company Dance United. It has been running as a termly programme, with three cohorts a year since last September having developed from a pilot project between 2009 and 2011.
One of its key aims is to reduce re-offending rates. The re-offending rate for the pilot project from 2009 to 2011 averaged at 34%. This compares favourably with similar programmes in Leeds and Bradford, evaluated by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Centre for Research on Socio-cultural Change at the University of Manchester which found combined re-offending rates there averaged 50%. The full impact of the Hampshire service will be evaluated later in 2013 when the Wessex Dance Academy has been fully running for one year.
The Butler Trust Awards were launched in 1985 in memory of the reforming former Home Secretary, RAB Butler. The awards celebrate outstanding dedication, skill and creativity by people working in prisons, probation or youth justice settings across the UK.
Two days later, on 13 March, the Wessex Dance Academy will be at the LGC Awards 2013 ceremony in London, where they have been shortlisted in the category of Children's Services.
Commenting Councillor Roy Perry, Hampshire County Council's Executive Lead member for Children's Services said: "I am delighted to see the positive impact that this programme is having is being recognised in this way. To be commended by the Butler Trust annual awards is extremely encouraging and a measure of the commitment which both our staff and the young people attending the Wessex Dance Academy give to the programme.
"The Dance Academy can help transform young people's lives. It provides them with a unique opportunity and a positive focus for their lives, helping them find out just what they are capable of achieving through hard work, dedication and commitment. I wish the team the best of luck for the LGC awards later in the week."