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Project information

Scene & Heard

A unique mentoring project brings together inner city children of Somers Town, London, with volunteer theatre professionals to create original theatre. Plays written by children and performed by professional adults give children a voice, boosting their self-esteem and raising aspirations.

January 2012 - December 2012

Charity information: Scene & Heard

Scene & Heard logo
  • Need


    We aim to mitigate effects of deprivation on the children of Somers Town; specifically lack of aspiration and low self-esteem resulting from poverty. There is little access to after-school activities and limited community engagement in this racially divided community. Research confirms that all this limits social mobility.


    By giving each child quality one-to-one adult attention and enabling them to write and perform their own plays we improve children's literacy skills, attitudes towards learning and develop communication and social skills.Each child experiences immediate, public success at the performances of their play. Being part of a professional theatre company raises aspiration and reinforces pride in their accomplishments. The local community comes together, sharing in the success of its young people

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Boost children’s self-esteem and raise their aspirations through personal experiences of success.


    » Each child will experience intensive one-to-one mentoring in every course
    » Each child will see their play professionally performed, will take a bow alongside their actors and receive public affirmation
    » Adults will perform the children’s work giving voice, value and credence to each child’s words and vision

    What success will look like

    Success will be each child committing to and completing the course culminating in receiving public affirmation

    Aim 2

    To improve literacy and attitudes towards learning; helping each child to reach their potential


    » Use an intensive one-to-one adult to child ratio allowing each child to develop at their own pace
    » Operate outside the school environment giving each child a new experience of learning
    » Use the mentor as scribe to allow free reign to each child’s imagination and creativity
    » Maintain open communication with teachers, parents and carers

    What success will look like

    Success will be each child writing their own original play for public performance

    Aim 3

    Provide one-to-one mentoring by positive adult role models from beyond the child’s normal experience


    » Use only Scene & Heard trained theatre professionals as volunteer mentors
    » Devote a team of professional adult volunteers to bring each child’s work to life
    » Operate a robust child protection policy

    What success will look like

    Success will be the commitment of up to 50 adult theatre professionals to inspire and support the children

    Aim 4

    Remain a significant presence in the children and their families’ lives through the teenage years


    » Operate a series of 5 courses over several years, each course building on the previous courses
    » Actively enrol younger siblings and other relatives
    » Ensure that each child remains a Member –Playwright for life
    » Work with each family to ensure that their children are able to complete the courses

    What success will look like

    Success will be children becoming member-playwrights and returning for further courses

    Aim 5

    Produce seasons of innovative new writing to the highest standard for an under-served community


    » Produce at least four high quality productions per year
    » Maintain the highest possible production standards, including using only professionals in the production of the work
    » Create props, costume, lights and sound to realise and enhance the child-playwright’s vision on stage
    » •Ensure that all tickets are free and the children’s local community is encouraged to attend

    What success will look like

    Success will be producing four productions per year for the Somers Town Community and the theatre going public

  • Impact


    In our 12 years parents and teachers consistently report improvement in children’s confidence and outlook. A 2009 survey of our Member Playwrights who were old enough, revealed 36% had gone on to University compared with 25.8% of Somers Town Resident in the 2001 census.
    The commitment of the schools, the families and the volunteers also demonstrates our success. In 2011 we received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.


    The greatest risk to Scene & Heard is the economic situation. We have always relied on Grant Giving Trusts and Foundations for our funding. We are working hard to ensure that future funding is sustainable and diverse. We are reviewing and improving our governance and financial procedures. We have undergone a major reorganisation in the last two years as our founders left to pursue other interests. We continue to expand our course structure, our volunteer base and our marketing strategy.


    The Course Director completes weekly reports for each child. The children evaluate their own experiences via a questionnaire process. The teachers and parents report the children’s progress. All of the information is collated into a detailed Evaluation Report which is available to all donors.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £30,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £25,400 Salaries & On Costs Non-project Salaries
      £1,500 Governance Accountancy, Insurance
      £1,600 Expenses Children's, Volunteers and Staff Expenses
      £1,500 Development Printing, Postage, Publicity & Marketing
  • Background


    Somers Town is among the worst wards in Britain for income deprivation affecting children (2007 Indices of Deprivation), including the highest rate of lone parents and the highest rate of unemployment in the borough. Overcrowding is also a problem, with the largest household size in Camden. There is a lack of after school activities in this area of racial tension and segregation.
    . “…what most [of the children] have in common is poverty.” –Head Teacher, Edith Neville Primary School


    For our first course the children are either siblings of previous participants or are referred by local schools for a variety of reasons e.g:
    • Excluded, or at risk of exclusion
    • Struggling academically
    • Refugee status
    • English as a second language
    • Special Educational Needs
    • High functioning
    • Extreme shyness
    After the first course we invite the children back for four further courses. Many children return to us year after year clearly demonstrating their own need.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Scene & Heard is unique in Great Britain as we use only professional volunteers from the theatre community. We are the only one-to-one mentoring project working in Somers Town.
    Scene & Heard has been working in Somers Town for 12 years. In that time there has been greater demand for our services than we have places. One of the head teachers emailed to say “I can fill every single place you can offer me. And more”

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Rosalind Paul

    Artistic Director - responsible for the overall running and vision of the organisation

    Jasmine Rowe

    Administrator - responsible for the day-to-day running and financial systems of the organisation

    Simma Gershenson

    Head of Development - responsible for fundraising and development

    450 Performing Arts Professionals

    Actors, writers, directors, designers and technicians Experts in their fields Committed to our work and the children Essential to our success

Scene & Heard Video

Scene & Heard is one of those rare, simple and beautiful ideas ... If everyone sent a tenner then that part of town would forever be in better shape

Bill Nighy - Actor & Scene & Heard Patron