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Could drama classes help keep Croydon's young people out of gangs?

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DRAMA is to be used in a new battle to turn Croydon children away from gang culture and violence.

The Terriers Project will see a successful venture run in Liverpool by the Royal Court Liverpool Trust and Merseyside police transfer to Croydon's Fairfield Halls.

The initiative will be run by Fairfield with backing from the Westfield/Hammerson Partnership, which is helping finance the £20,000 plus costs.

The project centres on hour-long drama, Terriers, set in Liverpool, which places central characters in many of the dilemmas facing young people being confronted with choices of whether or not to join a gang.

More than 50,000 young people have been involved in the project in Liverpool and the plan in Croydon is to reach 1,600 children aged to 10 to 14 over the next couple of years.

The play will be launched in the Ashcroft Theatre on November 10 with follow up performances in the Arnhem Gallery and secondary schools.

Teachers will also be provided with a follow-up educational toolkit so they can continue work on the project in lessons.

Simon Thomsett, Fairfield chief executive, said: "We have been talking about this for a while because we feel there are similarities between the urban environment in Liverpool and the environment here.

"We will be doing this initially as a Liverpool play but the issues that are raised and the characters involved are universal."

As the project unfolds, the intention is, Mr Thomsett said, to bring in Croydon actors and see whether the plot line can gradually be developed to have a more local feel.

He said: "The one thing we don't want is to come across as being 'worthy'.

"This is good drama which appeals to people of all ages as a play."

But he said he believed the underlying message of the decisions made by the main character on whether or not to get sucked into a gang culture and crime would resonate with young people in Croydon.

Mr Thomsett said: "The idea is to get young people, who are at a very impressionable age, to think for themselves.

"The play is saying you have choices and those choices can have big effects and big ramifications on your life, so make sure you make the right ones."

He added: "The project has been very successful in Liverpool and Merseyside police have said it has played a part in a drop in gun crime.

"We want Croydon police to be involved with us here."

Peter Cole, chief investment officer of Hammerson, said: "Working in partnership with Fairfield Halls and the Terriers Project we hope to ensure that young people in Croydon understand there is help available if they find themselves in trouble.

"The success of the project in Liverpool, by tackling the issue at the grass-roots level, is already a testament to the work that they do and will be a welcome resource to Croydon schools."

Could drama classes help keep Croydon's young people out of gangs?


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